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Panel discusses police relations with community

Posted at 7:01 PM, Feb 01, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-01 19:01:06-05

"I'm not undermining the law enforcement, I'm not saying that they're not doing their job, but there are some times when you have to raise some red flags," said ECC student, Garry Turner.

It's a topic that worries Turner whenever he's on the road: the chances of getting pulled over because of the color of his skin.

"I have multiple friends that tell me a lot of times they get pulled over by suspicion, so we're wondering what kind of suspicion was it? Does it have something to do with the pigmentation of the skin? Is racism involved?" said Turner.

Those are questions he wants answered. That's why Turner was front and center, sitting second row to this panel discussion, where district attorneys, legislators, police training officials, and pastors talked about police relations with the community.

"They're protecting and serving, and I appreciate the job that they're doing," said Larry Donaldson, ECC Mentor and Pastor for Greater Works Christian Fellowship. "Could they do better? Of course. Could we do better? Of course."

From Trayvon Martin to Eric Garner, panelists used those situations to urge Western New Yorkers and police to have open communication. Something police training official, Richard Chamberlin, says they've been working on.

"I think it's important that we're aware of what's going on nationally, but what's also important is what we do with each other and the things that we do," said Chamberlin. "We have to continue to reach out and continue to talk to each other."

"Every time a police stop occurs, they can end amicably, without injury or loss of life," said Kinzer M. Pointer, Pastor for Agape Fellowship Baptist Church.

The captain of community policing in Buffalo was also there. He says police are trying to be as involved as possible with the community, which can be difficult when they get half a million calls a year, and have approximately 500 officers on the street.

Audience members also said they want to see body cameras on officers. Chamberlin says this is easier said than done. He says body cameras are expensive and require a lot of storage space. Finding where to store that video is also a concern.