This year Mayor Ivy Taylor put together a council on police-community relations. And while the goal is to build more trust between local law enforcement and residents, so far that trust has been hard to come by; particularly since, for the second time, the committee met without the media or general public present.
The Mayor's Council on Police-Community Relations consist of several dozen community leaders, and the group has met three times. During the first meeting, neither the news media nor the general public were allowed to attend in hopes that council members would share their true feelings. A second meeting was held with media present, but the general public could only watch and listen.
And this week, on Monday, the council met with the FBI at the bureau's office. The FBI said that smaller and formal civil rights training sessions have proven to be the most effective way to reach community leaders. However, another closed gathering has made some feel like outsiders.
Munirah Small belongs to a group called Moms of Black Boys United. She sits on the mayor’s council, but said that building trust can’t be achieved if only she and a few dozen others are involved.
“We definitely do need to get away from this over-dressed, over sensationalized committee thing that we’re doing because that’s not it. I don't think it’s fair that [the press isn't] able to participate in it, I don't think it’s fair that the community is not able to participate in it,” Small said.
Mayor Taylor said that there’s a method to the meetings and that’s to have solutions and not just sound off.
“It would be very easy for me as an elected person to say, ‘We’re going to have five meetings, everybody’s going to sound off and then we’re going to go back to the way we’re doing things.’ Instead we have sought to be extremely thoughtful,” Mayor Taylor said.
The FBI told KENS 5 that it’s exploring ways to expand its civil rights training to others in the community in locations outside the FBI office. As for the Mayor’s Council on Police-Community Relations, it is scheduled to meet again on December 12 to figure out if the group wants to host any town hall meetings or what might be the best way to get more community engagement in the process.