Proactive community moving forward

Published 12:33 pm Wednesday, July 20, 2016

By Dawn Burleigh


Searching for a common ground to build a better community, the NAACP with the Top Ladies of Distinction and Black Lives Matter held a Leadership meeting Tuesday evening.

With over 40 people in attendance, the reaction was strong and positive to find proactive solutions to better relationships between the community and law enforcement.

The organizations discussed goals, which include police training, perception, the legal system and community policing.

The national NAACP called Orange NAACP President Franklin Gans to conduct the meeting on the local level.

“It began there, but does not end there,” Deborah Mitchell said. “We will continue the initiative.”

Mitchell is a member of the Top Ladies of Distinction and was the facilitator of the meeting.

Monthly meetings on the third Tuesday of the month will continue as both local law enforcement agencies and citizens work together.

A training session for how to conduct oneself during a traffic stop is being planned but as yet a date and time has not been announced.

“Simulations will help both sides have a better understanding.” Mitchell said.

Several citizens asked questions with concerns of how reliable were body and vehicle cameras. While not ever law enforcement agency has both at this time, audio is available.

Orange Police Department Captain Wade Robinson and Sparky Robinson and Orange County Sherriff Keith Merritt explained the process for filing a complaint against an officer or deputy.

“We review a sample of the video,” Sparky Robinson said. “If there is a complaint filed we will then review the entire footage.”

Franklin Gans reminded everyone the law officers were in the community to protect and serve us.

“These people are in our employment,” Gans said. “Do we have the best? I hope so. Don’t you want to get to know your employees?”

James Woodrow, of Orange, said he grieved for the police lives lost recently as well as Tamir Rice.

Rice would have celebrated his 14th birthday Sat. June 25. He was 12 when police shot him on November 23, 2104. Police said the boy was pulling out what was later found to be a toy gun when he was shot. Rice is but one of several which inspired the Black Lives Matter.

“There is only one way to solve the problem,” Woodrow said. “We need to pull together as a family, as Americans, to stop it from happening again.”

Deborah Mitchell said it will take everyone to make a difference and it begins at home.

“We have to allow ourselves to be valued for our children to be taught to be valued,” Mitchell said. “We have to hold the bad people accountable for selling drugs or driving up and down the streets. We have to go through a process we know works. Stop being afraid and intimidated. We are here to bring about change.”