Police chiefs from Brooklyn Center and Brooklyn Park are working to
increase the number of minority officers. It's part of an attempt to
improve relationships and understanding with minority communities, which is why they had a town hall meeting with residents Friday night.
"It's important for us to have conversation with the community when we are not in the middle of something," said Brooklyn Park Police Chief Craig Enevoldsen. "Once you are in the middle of something the emotions get so high. I think a lot of the dialogue gets lost in the emotion."
For Enevoldsen and Brooklyn Center Police Chief Tim Gannon, it was a night of Brooklyn bridge building. The forum at Park Center High School allowed for plenty of feedback between residents and police.
"This is just an ongoing conversation that we wanted to continue to have," Gannon said.
"Just coming here and listening is the first step," said Denise Butler, a Brooklyn Park resident. "What do you do with the information is the implementation part that we need."
During the forum the chiefs discussed issues affecting minorities, such as whether laws are being enforced equally. They also tried to clear up confusion surrounding immigration and the role police have with law enforcement agencies such as ICE.
Brooklyn Park and Brooklyn Center have a high percentage of foreign-born residents. Officials say creating trust between them and police is critical.
"In the current political environment it is very difficult for people to know who they can trust and who they can't trust," Gannon said. "We have always had a good relationship with the new American community and that's what we're trying to continue."
Both chiefs want more minority officers in their ranks. One way they hope to accomplish that is through their cadet programs.
"We're talking junior high and high schools to get them interested in the law enforcement profession," Enevoldsen said. "Then try to get them into our cadet program, which is then the pipeline into police officer."
Despite this meeting with police, some minority residents still worry about being treated fairly.
"I drive like a snail," Butler said. "So I feel for me I don't have that sense of distrust, But I'm not gonna lie. When a police officer gets behind me there is that sense of am I going to get pulled over?"
Eric Nelson, firstname.lastname@example.org