Black community leaders and RPD meeting weekly

Rachel Mills
Updated: April 14, 2021 06:18 PM
Created: April 14, 2021 05:37 PM

(ABC 6 News) - Cries for police reform are being shouted across the U.S., and the Rochester police department is getting the message. 

Its leaders have been meeting weekly with leaders in the African American community in Rochester, listening to their concerns and looking for common ground. 

And emotions were high this week after the shooting of Daunte Wright.

"It could have easily been my son, it could have easily been my brother, it could have easily been my cousin, could have easily been anyone here that I love,"  Nicole Andrews, the mother of an African American son, said. 

The community leaders at the meeting said the worst part of a hostile relationship with the police is raising a son in the current environment. 

"I know he has a trauma response of freezing, I know that he balls up his fists when he's angry and I have to talk him through that. So that you're not scared of him," Andrews said to the officers there about her teenage son. 

Rochester Police Chief Jim Franklin said the department has made several changes to its training methods in the last six months. 

He also said he understands the need for a more diverse police force.

"Over the last two and a half years, we've hired 24 people and over 50 percent of them have been women and people of color. And that's a direct reflection of making purposefully making it a priority," Chief Franklin said. 

The president of the Rochester chapter of the NAACP, Wale Elegbede, said it's not just about recruitment.

"Recruitment is just one aspect, and the culture of that police department or any workplace, that's another aspect," Elegbede said. 

He also said it goes far beyond just police departments. 

"The fact is, we're not seeing each other in the other," Elegbede said.  

Both RPD and African American community leaders said understanding and trust are possible, but they take time. 

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