A hopeful turning point in Lynchburg as city leaders come together to begin listening

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LYNCHBURG, Va. (WFXR) – On Tuesday night, after a long discussion with community leaders, Lynchburg City Council and Lynchburg City Police Chief Ryan Zuidema said many in the community felt the discussion was going in a more positive direction. Though more discussions and listening needs to occur.

“To build relationships you got to have time to sit and talk to people, not just show up to a call … put the fire out and move on the next call, right? So, the Community Action Team is back in their primary assignment, but their staffing is limited due to some of our challenges.”

Chief Ryan Zuidema – Lynchburg Police Department.

Chief Zuidema is referring to their employment shortages and also regulations concerning COVID-19. With over 200 employees with the City of Lynchburg Police Department, Zuidema explains only about 100 officers have gone through Community Crisis Training.

“I feel like both sides know that training is absolutely necessary and greater levels of training, and the community has been really receptive to what Chief Zuidema had to say about that.”

Mirgina Sheffey – Founder of RISE Lynchburg

Though the community as a whole would like to know a bit more about what goes into Community Crisis Training.

“They want him to elaborate on that … and there are actually talks to have the Police Department actually engage with local groups in an intimate setting and address certain concerns.”

Mirgina Sheffey – Founder of RISE Lynchburg

“That is a critical thing, that’s something that every officer needs to have to better assess situations.”

Chief Ryan Zuidema – Lynchburg Police Department.

From here, more “Listening Sessions” and open dialog with the public are planned. RISE holds its own town hall meetings every other Thursday from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

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