Legislators, leaders discuss plans for moving forward after shootings

Published: Aug. 1, 2016 at 9:51 PM CDT|Updated: Aug. 1, 2016 at 10:08 PM CDT
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BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Real change is what a panel of community leaders discussed Monday at the Baton Rouge Press Club.

Two state legislators, representative Ted James and Senator Regina Barrow, talked about their plans for improvement following the Alton Sterling shooting, and the ambush killing of three law enforcement officers.

James focused on better training and the process of police investigations. He says he is working on a bill that would make Louisiana State Police investigate all officer involved shootings in the state from the beginning.

"That's something that should be done in every police department," James said. "It is not anti-police because it is something that the police are already doing on themselves."

Senator Barrow wants to address police diversity training. She says the department already undergoes training for interacting with different cultures, but she would like to see it expanded.

"Hand movement gestures, eye contact, things of that sort which may seem as a threat, but it may just be a part of their cultural behavior," Barrow said.

Reverend Joe Connelly from Wesley United Methodist Church presented ideas of his own. He says community relations could improve if officers were assigned to certain neighborhoods where they could learn more about the people in the area, as opposed to being sent out to any location while on patrol.

"It's know your beat, it's knowing the kids, it's knowing the organizations there, and it's all about relationships," Connelly said. "I do believe had the officers known who Alton Sterling was, the whole incident would be completely different."

The panel also talked about a community review board for police investigations and residency requirements for officers. Baton Rouge Police Chief Carl Dabadie and Louisiana State Police Colonel Mike Edmonson were invited, but could not attend because of prior engagements.

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