ALBANY, GA (WALB) - Leaders at Rhema Word Cathedral welcomed nearly 200 people to its tidy sanctuary to work on ways to avoid violent confrontations between police and citizens.
A seminar Friday night called, "Hands Up, Don't Shoot" aimed to change people's perspective of law enforcement.
Officials represented jurisdictions from Florida and Georgia.
They answered questions from concerned citizens on how to react if they are stopped by an officer. Their first tip is to simply follow instructions.
"That's very important, because if law enforcement is giving you lawful instructions, you should follow instructions. But two, you have to be calm," explained Florida State Police Chief David Perry.
He knows that public perception of officers isn't the best right now.
"If young people were better equipped to deal with the process of having an interaction before it takes place, then they are more likely to have a positive one," said Perry.
Mallory Henson attended Friday's seminar. She said she still believes officers are there to protect and serve.
"I still look at law enforcement as a positive attribute to our local communities," said Henson.
She hopes the seminar will help build a better bond with the community.
Chief Perry said the response from officers when a gunman started shooting students on the campus of Florida State University reinforces that police are there to protect.
"One of the officers told me personally, 'Chief, I had to go and stop that person from harming our students..' I think that's an illustration on what we are about," he said.
Albany Police Chief John Proctor said his department is always working to create unity.
"[We want to] be responsive to our citizens and to the needs of this community and to make sure were as professional as possible," he stressed.
The seminar also informed citizens of their rights when interacting with officers.
Police also gave demonstrations on how citizens should react in various situations with officers.