African American leaders, VB city officials plan community policing meeting

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — The City of Virginia Beach and African-American leaders are prepping for a Saturday morning meeting aimed at improving community policing.

“You’re putting a band-aid on a cancer sore. Let’s step up to the plate and do this together,” said James Allen, the president of the Virginia Beach Interdenominational Ministers Conference.

In August, Allen and a number of others from the community presented a plan to improve community relations with police.

Saturday morning, members from Allen’s organization, the Virginia Beach NAACP and the Virginia Beach African-American Leadership Forum will meet with the city manager and other officials.

Allen says they were approached by the city to brainstorm ideas and goals but were disappointed after not meeting with officials last month.

“We found it very disappointing. Our response to them was at their initiative,” said Allen.

Allen said the representatives came up with a five point plan after polling community members. The most important goal they want to tackle is ending racial profiling.

“It doesn’t do anything but put our community, the African-American community, into a conflict situation with police right off the bat,” he said.

The plan also included adding diversity to police departments to reflect demographics, institutionalizing body camera use, creating a culture of transparency with law enforcement, and improving training and review systems for all officers.

Allen hopes that whatever they work out can have greater effects on the community.

“It’s not limited just to Virginia Beach. The same issues Virginia Beach suffers is what all the Hampton Roads area suffers and across the nation,” he said.

The meeting on Saturday is at the Virginia Beach Convention Center. It starts at 9 a.m.

Allen hopes to leave with a more direct course of action.

“Our goal for tomorrow is to come out of there with hardcore steps. This is what we’re going to do tomorrow,what are we going to do the next day.We intend to leave that meeting with a working copy of some of these steps being put in place,” he said.