LYNCHBURG, Va. (WFXR) — The Lynchburg Police Department hosted its first of six listening sessions Wednesday night at Jefferson Park.
On Wednesday, July 1, members of the department listened to people’s stories about their interactions with police and gave them a chance to share ways the department could improve.
Many people shared their experiences and not all of them were happy, but the chief says they were there to hear the good, the bad, and the ugly.
“You want us to give you respect, you have to give us the same respect. And I respect that they do. I mean they put their lives on the line everyday for us,” said Teah Perkins.
Perkins says she came to the listening session because she wanted to clear up some misunderstandings.
“I just want people to know that the protesting from African Americans is because they want to be heard and they want to be treated fairly, especially when it comes to police interaction.”
Perkins, along with many others who spoke, believe police should get to know the people who live in the communities they patrol
“Not everybody you come into contact with is bad or has a bad background.”
According to Perkins, it was important for her to be heard because she has a 6-year-old asking a lot of questions about police brutality towards African Americans.
“I have to constantly reassure her that not all officers are bad, that is who you got to get help. But she also feels like, ‘if the cops are treating people that way, then who do I go to if there’s a bad cop?'”
Lynchburg Police Chief Ryan Zuidema says he’s grateful Teah and others came and shared.
“I think it’s great to hear their stories. It kind of makes us really understand what’s going on and it really helps us getting a better idea of how we can better police our community,” Zuidema said.
The chief says they will compile all the thoughts from all the meetings and work together with the Community Policing Advisory group to see what common themes there are and how they make changes.
After the meeting, Zuidema met with all the members of the department who showed up and thanked them for being there and also told them to reflect on what they heard and share it with other officers.
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