Governor Addresses Race Relations At Roundtable
State and community leaders met for a roundtable on race relations this morning at the State Capitol. Governor John Bel Edwards spoke at the meeting, calling for a renewed effort to build trust between law enforcement and the public.
“We have too many police officers who are scared of members of the public and too many members of the public who are scared of police officers. It doesn’t have to be that way, but nothing’s going to change unless we make it change, and that’s what these meetings are about,” Edwards said.
Edwards says they discussed teaching people in driver’s education courses how to respond to officers when they get pulled over. He says they also want to meet with kids in schools to educate youth about interacting with police.
“We are going to go out into school systems and make sure that there are positive relationships developed between school resource officers and the kids on those campuses,” Edwards said.
Edwards says law enforcement agencies are also looking at increasing the number of training hours required and implementing new training methods. State Police Col. Mike Edmonson says they’re already boosting efforts with the cadet class training at their police academy.
“I told them ‘You’re going to have the opportunity in this class to learn how to treat people. Once you become the aggressor, it’s over, that situation is over, and if you can’t learn that, then you will not graduate,’” Edmonson said.
Edmonson says resolving these problems is not just about training, it’s about having an open dialogue. He says the conversations don’t end when these meetings are over. He says we need ongoing discussions about ways to improve relations, and that starts with listening.
“Listening to our young people, listening to our faith based community, listening to our activists in town, listening to our leaders, listening to our community and making sure they’re being heard,” Edmonson said.