International panel meetings hope to help bridge divide between Mobile Police and diverse communities

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MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — A deadly police shooting happened hours after a meeting to better relationships between law enforcement and the people they serve.

The Mobile Police Department is working to gain trust in diverse communities. Chief Lawrence Battiste said the idea for these meetings began with protests from last summer. Police report, through research, people of Asian and Hispanic backgrounds are usually reluctant to speak with law enforcement if they are the victim of a crime. The goal of the meetings is to address problems brought by community members, mostly of Asian and Hispanic backgrounds, and create solutions.

People marched through downtown demanding better from law enforcement following the deaths of Black people in police custody around the nation. Since then, Chief Battiste vowed to build stronger community relations with all races and generations. He said, “Getting from protests to getting here just took us reaching out and saying, ‘Hey, we’re willing to sit down and listen to what your concerns are, and try to help find solutions to what those concerns happen to be.'”

Whether in person or on Zoom, people were able to begin conversations about issues they see in their communities.

Luis Ramirez said, “There is a lot of people out there that they, they afraid, they afraid sometimes to call the police and if they are a victim of a crime, and they just afraid.”

Ramirez came to the meeting to ask questions for members of the Latino community who feel they cannot. Speaking of an issue he’s heard about, Ramirez said, “They get pulled over by an officer, and they don’t have any record, criminal record, and they get taken to jail.”

The issue is one Chief Battiste said he had not heard about, but is one he plans on investigating.

Chief Battiste said, “I’d like to see if that’s a trend or a problem that’s happening within our ranks… We’re not there to try to make a determination whether you have a green card or you’re, you’re in the United States. Believe me, if you’re a victim of a crime, our role and responsibility is to try to make sure that we identify who perpetrated the crime against you and bring those individuals to justice.” 

You can find more information about programs by Mobile Police HERE.

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