After receiving nearly 40 applications, committee prepares to select community police ambassadors

Source: WAFB
Source: WAFB
Source: WAFB
Source: WAFB

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - It's been more than a year since the shooting death of Alton Sterling and the public is still waiting on the decision of whether the two officers involved will face criminal charges.

Attorney General Jeff Landry has yet to announce a timeline or provide many details on the case and he didn't have much to say about it when asked at an unrelated news conference Tuesday morning. "It's something that we'll be addressing in the future when that investigation is complete," said Landry.

While that investigation continues, a new program that launched in reaction to the shooting is making progress. "We believe that we had a really good response," said EBR Councilwoman Tara Wicker.

Nearly 40 people have answered the call and applied to be a community police ambassador. The volunteers will serve as liaisons to build relationships between officers and the people they serve. The application window has been open for roughly two months and now, the first batch of ambassadors is about to be selected.

"It's really critical," said Wicker. "We really believe it's an effective tool when you're able to bring the community and the police together to have a conversation in a way that they have not had it before."

The applications will be reviewed over the next two weeks and the goal is to have 18 people selected for the program by the holidays. Chosen from each Baton Rouge Police Department district, the ambassadors will be trained before hitting the streets. Sgt. Riley Harbor with BRPD says it cannot come soon enough.

"From a police standpoint, as long as we get the engagement with understanding of what it is that we need to do, I think we're going to do well," said Harbor.

With murders at an all time high in the Capital City, Harbor thinks dialogue is key to not only getting that problem under control, but also for preventing deadly encounters with police.

"It's just a misunderstanding I really believe sometimes because we don't have the proper dialogue going at all times. Now you have a strong connection," said Harbor.

Wicker says she is excited the plan will finally be put to the test.

"When a community comes together for the right reason, with the right heart, the right spirit and the right passion, the results can be very successful," said Wicker.

The committee says it wants the process to be as transparent as possible so they will actually choose the ambassadors at random from those applicants who remain after the criminal history check.

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