FREEPORT (WTVO) – Freeport city leaders came together for the third time Thursday to discuss ways to improve relations between the police department and the people officers protect and serve.
Members of the city’s recently formed Social Justice Committee listened as community members passionately spoke their minds. Throughout the public comment portion of the meeting, speakers continually brought up the May 31st protests. Demonstrations turned violent that night as police used rubber bullets and tear gas to disperse the crowd. That day has strained the relationship between FPD and some community members. Tonight, police chief Matthew Summers listened to the criticisms, with hopes of improving relationships with community members.
“If it’s uncomfortable for me to listen if it’s an uncomfortable conversation, that’s my job. And that’s my job to take that information back to the department and create change there”, said Chief Summers.
Stacy Wittfield, who has lived in Freeport her entire life attended and spoke at Thursday night’s meeting. She says one way to improve the bond between police and people living in the city is to have a more racially diverse police force.
“It’s hard right now for people that wanted to be a police officer right here in Freeport that’s black or a minority status and just the trust that they don’t have the trust here”, Wittfield said.
Chief Summers said educating the community on how and why they use policing tactics is one aspect he knows the department needs to improve on in the future.