Rockford's NAACP chapter sits down with community members to discuss forming a stronger relationship with the city's police department. Mutual trust was the main topic of it's meeting.
Imagine a routine traffic stop, the officer gets out of his squad car and goes up to the drivers window. "Often just a typical routine encounter with law enforcement will escalate into conflict with possible arrest because citizens don't understand their obligations to comply with law," says NAACP chapter president Lloyd Johnston.
Johnston says years of mistrust have created a disconnect between police and the community, leaving both sides wary of interaction. "And so with trust being a foundation of all relationships you have law enforcement officers out here trying to keep the very public safe who the officer themselves may not be able to trust. Citizens as well, 'Is this officer friendly or is this officer enemy?'"
Rockford resident Patrick Outlow says he has witnessed this for himself. "A lot of people will tell you, I'm not talking to the police, and I think that helps them but it hurts the overall fight to diminish crime. Without trust for our law enforcement officials, cooperation will diminish and it'll continue to get lesser and lesser and smaller and smaller," says Outlow.
Johnston wants people to change this way of thinking by reporting illegal activity anonymously to Crimestoppers. He says doing this can help cut down on crime, and build trust and communication between residents and the police department.
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