Created: January 17, 2021 11:10 PM
(ABC 6 News) -- In a few weeks, Rochester Police is looking to work with a community liaison from a local non-profit in town.
The goal is to bridge the gap between the Rochester Police Department (RPD) and black, indigenous and people of color in the community, "I believe that we will have a much better outcome as we move forward,” RPD Community Services Division Capt. Jeff Stilwell said.
After the death of George Floyd last year, several groups fighting for racial justice in our community advocated for a police liaison to work with Rochester Police to make sure their voices are heard.
One of those people who want to see a liaison is Jaida Crowson, a coordinator for Rochester Community Initiative or RCI. RCI is a youth-led organization that organized peaceful protests last summer following the death of George Floyd, "I think right now we've definitely seen a large urge for more community-based resources over this past summer. I think this is a very big step in that process because too often we're seeing people where we have all of these resources in Rochester that would be great and beneficial for all of these communities. But they're not presented and handed out enough,” Crowson said.
After more than a year of working with different community groups, RPD says its found partnership with a local non-profit, Barber Shop and Social Services and their Sports Mentorship Academy program. Grant money from Mayo Clinic’s EverybodyIN program will fund this project.
Capt. Stilwell says this position will help RPD move forward, "I think a big piece of that is training our staff and educating our staff about what the things we're doing that makes the community feel alienated or build that mistrust. They'll also be fully involved into the extent that we can help our other partners, getting people that need those services in the community whether those are treatment services, mental health help,” Capt. Stilwell said.
Jaida thinks this is a step in the right direction and hopes one day it can be a community-led position. She also says there’s one thing to be mindful of, "Making sure that it's consistent is the main part we need to focus on. Too many times we've seen these great initiatives get brought up but then it falls through,” Crowson said.
But another advocacy group in town called Rochester for Justice says more work needs to be done, “We believe the police department is working on ideas going forward into 2021 and we hope to continue working directly with Chief Franklin as we had with Chief Peterson for many years. Specifically in this instance, we hope that, just as in with municipal decision-making, initiatives built around solving racial disparities in the BIPOC community are forwarded to local civil rights organizations and made readily available for scrutiny through a variety of equity lenses,” Rochester for Justice said.
In a statement, Rochester for Justice said that they do not agree with RPD's decision. But Rochester for Justice says they are still hoping for the best, “We hope that the new police liaison position succeeds in fostering a healthy relationship between local law enforcement and BIPOC communities. We also hope that the city and police department work hard at the selection process going forward when addressing issues or initiatives that are being built to serve the BIPOC community going forward.”
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