DENVER (CBS4) – In the wake of police shooting deaths of black men around the country followed by civil unrest, community leaders and law enforcement officials sat down Thursday in Denver to “help build trust.”
Denver was chosen for the forum in part because of its diversity and location in the Rocky Mountain region.
Deputy U.S. Attorney General Sally Yates told the gathering at the Centro San Juan Diego in Denver that the events from Ferguson to Charlotte did not create the mistrust, “that they have been there for a very long time.”
She noted that while “people of color” are more likely to be stopped by police, the vast majority of law enforcement officers are doing the right thing.
“We need to work together to come up with some concrete steps to what we can do to build that trust,” said Yates.
Representatives of the black, Hispanic, Sikh and other communities were seated with police chiefs, sheriffs and district attorneys as one body rather than one side facing the other.
Denver Police Chief Robert White made reference to Denver Broncos Brandon Marshall’s protest of kneeling during the National Anthem during football games over what they player calls “social injustice.”
White also addressed calls for policy changes. He said he has updated some of the Denver Police Department’s policies to reflect social change.
“I have a policy that says if you are involved in a shooting and someone is injured and they are still alive, you have the responsibility to administer first aid to them,” said White.
The acting U.S. Attorney Bob Troyer noted it was a beautiful day, but referred to what he called, “A storm of mistrust in the community.”
“There is a real urgency in recognizing and try to make progress in fixing the degradation of trust,” said Troyer.
The news media was then asked to leave so the community and law enforcement could carry on a discussion out of the presence of the microphones and cameras.
Brother Jeff Fard, a community activist warned if relations aren’t improved things could get much worse, “They are going to be surprised when changes don’t take place how violent this country can erupt.”
Another meeting is planned to follow up on the concerns mentioned in this forum.
All agreed what came out of the meeting was an effort to improve communication.