La. House committee begins dialogue on improving community, police relationship

House committee begins dialogue on improving community, police relationship

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - A House committee held a nearly day-long hearing to listen to concerns from the public and responses from law enforcement.

"The purpose of these meetings are to bring resolution," said Rep. Katrina Jackson, D-Monroe, who is the chairman of the House Committee on Judiciary.

They want a resolution to the strained relationship between the community and law enforcement.

"I think we should all pull together because I think this city is in trouble," said Sandra Sterling, the aunt of Alton Sterling who was killed in shooting involving the Baton Rouge Police Department.

The issues discussed were police training, race relations, officer safety and more, but instead, the hearing turned into many simply speaking from the heart.

"I have stated on numerous times that this would never happen in Baton Rouge and not only did it happen with Alton Sterling, but it happened with the police officers, and I'll tell you that it's been a very trying time in our community," said Rep. Ted James, D-Baton Rouge.

Others said what they felt were the issues that somehow needed to be addressed.

"We can't legislate morals but we can put things into place such as body cameras," said Rep. C. Denise Marcelle, D-Baton Rouge.

"We need laws and legislations and rules that police officers can follow that bring them to a sense of accountability," said local blogger Gary Chambers.

Numerous state and local law enforcement officials spoke about the training they offer their troopers and officers including Louisiana State Police Colonel Mike Edmonson, who said they are starting with an important and impressionable group of citizens.

"Especially our young individuals, what do you do when a police officer pulls you over? We're going to add that into driver's education to have those discussions inside driver's education," Edmonson said.

East Baton Rouge Parish Mayor-President Kip Holden said BRPD makes all cadets go through a 740-hour basic training academy and 40-hour per year in-service training, which is double what Holden said the P.O.S.T. training requires.

Baton Rouge Police Chief Carl Dabadie said they are doing more with officers and community policing.

"We are doing the midnight basketball games. I have officers who volunteer their free time to coach and mentor and internship with people in our community," Dabadie said.

"Every day that these men and women put on a uniform, they are willing to sacrifice their life to save somebody else and make the community better. So I stand here today to say, 'Yes, we're willing to work with others to make a difference for everyone,' but at the same time, respect on both sides has to be a part of the fabric of everyone 24/7," said Holden.

The hearing is scheduled to continue Thursday at 9 a.m.

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