June 23, 2020 at 11:22 PM EDT – Updated June 23 at 11:30 PM
WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) – The New Hanover County and City of Wilmington Community Relations Advisory Committee (C-RAC) met Tuesday night for the first time since February.
C-RAC addresses community issues involving prejudice or discrimination on the basis of race, national origin, creed or religion, age, gender, sexual orientation, disability or medical condition.
Chief Deputy Ken Sarvis of the New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office spoke to the members of C-RAC about different policies that the Sheriff’s Office has. Sarvis says it’s his way of being transparent to the people he helps try to keep safe.
“People have questions about what we do and how we operate,” said Sarvis. “It’s so important to be transparent and to let people know that we are here to protect the community and protect…in light with what has happened in the last few weeks…we are out there to protect the protesters peacefully. We support them to be peacefully protesting and that’s what we want to see happen.”
C-RAC Chair Evelyn Adger says having more information about how law enforcement operates will lead to a better understanding within the community.
“It’s about educating the community about the organizations that represent the community or that keep the community safe,” said Adger. “There are going to be issues? Yes. Do we know all the answers? No, we don’t. So, I looked at those organizations that are willing to come forth and educate us on what they are doing,” she added.
While these committee members are willing to invest the time to make improvements in the community, Vice-Chair Jeff Hovis believes more input from the community year-round would improve relations.
“The interaction with the community is the most important thing and we don’t get enough of it,” said Hovis. “We tend to only react when we have a problem or when something we don’t like happens. But, people should be engaged all the time [and] hopefully will take a bad situation and make it better.”
During the meeting, the committee also voted on a recommendation for the City of Wilmington to improve its score on its LGBTQ Municipal Equality Index.
Currently, the City rates 15 out of a possible 100. In the recommendation, the committee asks the city to adopt a goal to raise its score to 100 within 5 years.
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