The Justice and Civil Rights Initiative held a Police and Citizens Relations Forum at the Houston Cole Library on Monday at 6:15 p.m. to discuss current issues dealing with police officers in relation to the public.
Ed Moore III, who is the president and founder of the Initiative, stated that he hoped the audience would gain understanding during the event that certain ethical issues like those concerning police are two-sided.He claimed that “it is important for us to understand that we must work on problems with both sides of the equation,” and that this is a “critical time more than ever to come together and have these types of forums.”
To speak on behalf of the police, Birmingham’s former Chief of Police, Annetta Nunn, was present as well as Capt. Cleveland Moore from the Special Investigations Division at the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office.
Moore asked them questions about the daily tasks of a police officer. Nunn answered that an officer’s day is unexpected. They can get called out to several places along with having to go to court or even have extra training. Capt. Moore explained that these things, plus calls that police have to respond to that could be handled without them, take away from some of the more important calls due to lack of available staff.
This helped answer some questions about the controversial issue blaming officers for taking too long to respond to certain calls or picking certain areas to respond to over others.
Capt. Moore explained that the crime currently taking place will take priority over suspicions of one.
JSU’s own Associate Professor of Social Work Dr. Jennifer J. Savage, and Assistant Professor of Sociology Dr. Jeremy A. Ross were present to provide explanations about why society responds to events in certain ways.
CEO and founder of the New Order National Human Rights Organization in Atlanta, Gerald E. Rose, spoke on this as well.
Dr. Savage proposed the idea that police officers in every area should be well integrated to get every race and ethnicity more comfortable with each other and with who is enforcing the law.
She said this would help with people accusing officers of responding to certain calls based on the neighborhood the crime is in.
Past controversies with law enforcement like Rodney King, Trayvon Martin and Eric Garner were brought up for brief discussion.
These are similar to the Michael Brown case happening now in Ferguson, Mo.
Though this forum was planned several months ago, well before Michael Brown was killed, the speakers were able to use it as an example.
The speakers were in agreement that respect for law officers starts as a child and should be taught at a young age. They said officers should handle their job with respect as well.
Ultimately, the speakers agreed that the problem society is facing is more economic, and the relationship between law enforcement and the public should be worked on before a catastrophe can arise.