Police leaders and an advisory board the town formed in 2015 held a police and community relations forum Jan. 12, mirroring what has been a trend recently among police departments in the region.
The event, held at Town Hall, gave members of the community a chance to speak out on matters relevant to their local police.
“The purpose of the forum is to engage residents and other area stakeholders in conversation about the topics and issues that are most important to our entire community,” police Chief Lawrence Capps said.
The Community Policing Advisory Board is made up of nine Knightdale residents, Capps and a representative from the Town Council – Mark Swan. Council member Dustin Tripp sat in for Swan at the forum.
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The police department and advisory board members used responses from surveys sent out to residents to help steer the conversation at the forum. Those who attended also had the opportunity to toss their own questions before the panel.
The dialogue included topics like traffic and growth in the town, diversity within the police department and community policing, one of the six pillars identified in the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing.
“Community policing is a philosophy where the police department is building relationships with different organizations, people and groups to work together to address and solve problems within the community,” Capt. Jacqui Boykin explained.
Boykin said community policing goes beyond merely reacting to a problem someone reports. It starts conversations, she said, that help police and the community identify and resolve underlying issues.
But for community policing to succeed, Boykin said Knightdale residents must be proactive in building relationships among themselves and with police.
“It is our belief that such a forum promotes the kind of dialogue and interaction necessary for the police-community partnership to thrive,” Capps said.
The police department intends to make the forum an ongoing, annual event.