Neighbors in Syracuse sat down with the City Police Department to encourage dialogue while building better relationships.
“It was a small but big circle. Small in size, but big in the way that we thought– big in the way that we had our interactions,” said Amir Gethers. He was one of a handful of participants in the most recent ‘Syracuse Police-Community Dialogue.’
“I would like to see the police in my area come in to knock on my door, say ‘hi my name is so and so ‘ and then we sit down and talk,” added Andy Semabia, a Syracuse resident. “With that you try to build that trust, that relationship with the community.”
That was the peg of the meeting. Community members and police officers building trust in a safe setting. They were able to have conversations they may otherwise never have gotten the chance to.
“Just having an opportunity to step outside of myself and hear others perspective on things that are going on in the community was very enlightening,” explained participant Shante Harris El.
The meetings started in Syracuse in 2015. It’s a partnership between the Syracuse Police Department, InterFaith Works and other Syracuse groups.
This session was a five week long dialogue that met once a week for a few hours. They were tackling topics like police-community relations, the drug epidemic, mental health, and more.
The group also maintains a list of rules to follow, sticking only to what’s plaguing Syracuse and not looking at the entire country.
“We want to focus on Syracuse because we want to be responsible for our own actions and we want to be held accountable for our own actions,” group facilitator Sarah Reckess explained. “It’s very difficult to understand what community members are going through in South Carolina, It’s very difficult to understand what the police department policies are in New Orleans, so we try to keep it local.”
“Without this dialogue I wouldn’t have had this much interaction or knowledge so I’d like to see this replicated all over the city,” said Semabia.