For a time, a number of people feel that disconnects between law enforcement and communities they are serving feel that instances are isolated. The thought process is as long as citizens comply, it greatly reduces the potential for any sort of interaction going awry, ranging from verbal interaction to the use of force.
With the advent and use of technology, there are images and instances in which law enforcement may either overstep their bounds, or in cases in which they do so, the potential for reprimand and prosecution is minimal. Combined with selective application of the protocol of evaluating the risk and based on it (along with any potential threat to the officer or immediate community), crafting a response ranging from a verbal warning to non-lethal force (in interactions where the person in question is unarmed) to lethal force (in a clear-cut case of where the person is question is armed and firing upon an officer or could overpower the officer and those in the immediate vicinity), the “myth” of severed ties between the community and law enforcement is more of a reality than anything else.
In an effort to be more proactive with the engagement process, the community-centered organization UnifyGwinnett is hosting the first of multiple forums and opportunities to provide ways to not only discuss areas of concern, but move towards effectuating constructive and balanced changes that better align with a more balanced approach to law enforcement. Entitled “Gwinnett County State of Law Enforcement and Community Relations”, the program takes place on Thursday, November 19th, at 6:30pm. Salem Missionary Baptist Church (4700 Church St NW in Lilburn, GA) is serving as the venue for the meeting.
“We are pleased to that County Commission Chairman Charlotte Nash and Commissioner Lynette Howard have accepted our invitation to participate in a community meeting to address the state of law enforcement and community relations in Gwinnett County. We are moving forward with our county leadership in building bridges between our local law enforcement and the many residents that live, work, and play within our county”, notes Latabia Woodward from our discussion earlier today (November 12, 2015). She is serving as one of the coordinators for the event; the Gwinnett County NAACP is also playing a role in the coordination of the event.
Gwinnett County residents are invited to attend, and those from the greater community are encouraged to be a part of the closed meeting designed to have focused and candid conversation. As a way to better facilitate conversation, readers are asked to submit their questions and concerns they would like to address via email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Since there is limited space for the event, those who are interested in attending are encouraged to RSVP for a ticket and seat for the function (click HERE to register).
With high profile cases ranging from the Sandra Bland case and others, there is a clear need to discuss and better problem-solve when it comes to law enforcement and community interaction. Even in the instance where members of the law enforcement community choose not to be a part of the initial conversation (as Gwinnett County Sheriff Butch Conway declines to be a participant), eventually, in order to facilitate improved relationships the community is calling for, law enforcement and all involved parties have to play a role in order to make the changes that are necessary, which may encompass stronger guidelines and consequences in the event they (police) clearly overstep their boundaries. Next Thursday’s forum is a step in the larger process of improved relations and engagement with law enforcement and the communities (and people) they are sworn to serve and protect.