RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — With the Baltimore riots on the minds of many, hundreds of residents came with questions and concerns to the Richmond “Peeps and Police” meeting in Southside Plaza Thursday.
“It worries me a lot because I’m a mother, I’m a grandmother,” said Carolyn Johnson, a Richmond resident and community leader.
”I pray for the folks in Baltimore, but there’s a lot of pieces to that. The first step is being aware of what’s going on, and engaging with your police force because you’ve got to realize they are not the enemy,” said Victor Rogers, a Richmond resident at the meeting.
“The more we can get out about what we do on a day to day basis, how we do what we do and why we do what we do, I think it’s important for citizens to understand that. But it’s also important for us to understand their perspective and they perceive us to be,” said Eric English, Deputy Chief of Operations with the Richmond Police Department.
Richmonders shared personal stories, and a panel of officers answered questions. They addressed issues in the city like black on black crime, the rise of gangs, and bias training for officers.
“We all have biases and we have to work to make sure we’re not being biased against anyone,” said Officer el-Amin.
They also addressed violence among our youth, and ways to create trust between them and the department.
“I want to make sure that our young people are prepared to deal with the police officers so they can work together and we all can get along,” said Johnson.
“We partnered with schools, Dr. Bedden and his staff. We’re trying to find ways to engage more with our public schools and the youth in those particular schools,” said English.
“I think they’ve addressed some issues. I know things are not perfect, but they can get better. And they can only get better if we work together,” said Corey Fauconier, a Richmond resident.
The department is conducting a survey to gauge how the community perceives officers. You can take the survey online here.