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Sanford Speaks events encourage residents, police to come together to heal trauma

Residents, city officials and police officers had an open conversation about policing at Sanford Speaks.
Danielle Prieur
Residents, city officials and police officers had an open conversation about policing at Sanford Speaks.

More than 80 city officials, police officers and residents of Sanford are continuing a conversation around equity in policing.

Participants in Sanford Speaks held a two-hour community conversation on Wednesday night.

14 tables of people, on both sides of the badge had an open conversation about police-community relations at Sanford Speaks.

Attendees shared both good and bad experiences they’ve had with Sanford police, along with what they’d like to see the police department change.

Race, Equality, Equity and Inclusion Committee member Dr. Patrice Anderson said the goal is to help people build trust and work through trauma.

“So, we want better race relations. We want better community policing," said Anderson. "That's our end goal. We want a solid foundation of community policing, and we want to bridge that gap. And we just want to create dialogue that just goes beyond these events.”

Fellow REEI Committee member Pastor Tony Hernandez said he’s seeing people open up more through these conversations which is crucial.

“Sometimes you see the tensions, you see the emotions, in the conviction in their voice, as they speak on what's going through their families and their lives," said Hernandez. "But that's the whole purpose of opening up, having that true conversation and being able to build that bridge between the races.”

After the conversation, Sanford Police Chief Cecil Smith shared a report about policing in the city that highlighted an increasingly diverse force.

The next Sanford Speaks is August 22. RSVP here.

Danielle Prieur is a general assignment reporter and fill-in host at WMFE.
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