Community Police Relations Forum Generated Many Participants, Good Questions and Quality Discussions

Last October was our most successful Community Police Relations Forum. 

We needed a minimum of 20 participants to engage with a panel of law enforcement for 90 minutes.  In all, 156 participants showed up virtually and 16 participants showed up in person for a total of 172 participants. 

Our moderator was retired Belle Glade Assistant Chief of Police, Danny Jones and the panel comprised of WPB Police Assistant Chief Tony Spatara, Delray Beach Police Assistant Chief Darrell Hunter and Riviera Beach Police Chief Michael Coleman. 

The forum had three main takeaways. 

The first one was how to file a complaint against a law enforcement officer, and as a follow up to that, what happens after a complaint is filed. 

The second takeaway was what happens to a law enforcement officer if he/she is found to be in noncompliance or guilty as alleged to a law, policy or procedure and additional consequences and accountabilities have to be imposed as a result of the investigation.  Some of the questions that came out of this discussion included, what do you have to say about the officers that don’t do their job and you happen to know them personally?  How does a corrupt officer get punished?  And, how are youth supposed to trust law enforcement when we only see corrupt cops all over social media? 

And the third takeaway was the notion that police body cameras are beneficial to both law enforcement and the community.  Examples of questions that came from this portion included, have cameras improved police accountability?  In situations where cases are not reported, are those officers’ cameras monitored?  And, how do you ensure that you are not violating a citizen’s privacy?

All throughout the entire evening, the participants continued to ask engaging questions and the panel was transparent, honest and approachable.  One other notable point worth noting was the amount of questions that youth raised that had nothing to do with Policing the Police.  Mr. Jones, the moderator, allowed for those questions because of the type of questions being asked.  There were a number of different youth that began asking about career pathways into law enforcement and what life as a law enforcement officer is like.  The panel entertained, loved and answered as many of those questions as time permitted.  Some of the youth genuinely appeared to be interested in law enforcement as a career and what life as an officer is like.  Examples of those questions include, what is the typical path to become a police officer?  Do you ever get scared with anything that you are about to deal with and how do you overcome that fear?  And What are some of the qualities that you must have to be considered to become a police officer?