The St. Louis Post-Dispatch is reporting that Ferguson’s Police Department has pledged to spend more time walking around neighborhoods and speaking with residents. Its goal is to reduce tension within a community that is now infamous for police brutality and violence.
At a local church, Greater Grace Church, about 130 people gathered for the premiere of a new neighborhood policing plan according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The presentation is the first in a series addressing the new plan that is aimed at restoring relations between locals and police, particularly in the wake of Michael Brown’s murder by Officer Darren Wilson in August last year.
The new plan mandates that officers will be assigned to particular parts of the neighborhood to get to know the residents and businesses in those areas.
Interim Police Chief Andre Anderson spoke at the gathering saying:
“We want to get the community more involved in our efforts to develop a better relationship. We know we can’t do it without the community.”
Anderson stresses that he wants Ferguson to have an old style of policing in which officers talk to locals regularly and walk the streets like everyone else.
“I think we are on the right track,” Anderson said. “The reality is that the police department can’t do it alone.”
The audience had an equal number of Black and White attendees. During the question-and-answer session, some noticed their concerns over whether the department had a large enough staff to address the needs and the crime in the St. Louis suburb. Others spoke out about how officers continued to use excessive force on residents after Michael Brown’s death.
Some were hopeful about the program, however. Deborah Carter, a longtime resident, said she was behind Anderson’s efforts.
“I also want police to be held accountable for what they do. I don’t want anything to be swept under the rug.”
Volunteers were selected from the first meeting to create a steering community that would coordinate additional community programing to put Anderson’s policing plan into place.
[SOURCE: AP, Huffington Post]