By Kendall McGee | September 29, 2020 at 4:46 PM EDT – Updated September 29 at 5:12 PM
WALLACE, N.C. (WECT) – Police in Wallace are working to forge a strong bond between their officers and the community.
The department hosted their first of two training sessions with a nonprofit group Tuesday morning. Community members, academics, 911 dispatchers, officers and even their K9 companions all sat in on the first session.
The group holding the session, Dedicated To Community, has trained Miami PD and Connecticut State Police but Tuesday was the first time they went to help officers in North Carolina. The program is led by a former FBI instructor and provides trainees steps to bridge the gap between officers and the people they serve.
“We have an incredible divide right now and it’s based in cultural differences, some racial differences but when we figure out through the relationships we form, that we’re all 99.9 percent the same– we have some cultural differences– we should appreciate them embrace the differences as opposed to reveling in them,” said M. Quentin Williams of Dedicated to Community.
As the nation as a whole struggles to rebuild trust, Wallace’s police chief James Crayton wanted to make sure he was a doing everything he could to make sure his community was strong so he called in M. Quentin Williams.
“I think we all have a lot to learn from each other and I think that true positive change comes in the small more intimate types of conversations,” said Crayton.
Williams left everyone today with what he calls the “recipe for reconciliation” which gives people strategies to heal and grow. While the problem is complex, Williams says there’s simple things that can be done to build equity and trust.
“It’s all based in relationships. What we are talking about is how do we build better and more meaningful relationships in society,” said Williams. “When both parties understand the plight of each other, we’re gonna make some progress.”
The former FBI agent adds that citizens must be able to understand the risks law enforcement face on a daily basis and police also need to be able to empathize with the people they serve and acknowledge that many people are scared they’ll be harmed during a traffic stop.
Wannetta Carlton is the town’s mayor pro tempore and admits during traffic stops most people are scared they’ll be harmed.
“You know a lot of people are fearful of the police and I hope through this class we learn some strategies to help us not be fearful of them,” said Carlton.
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