Local agency bridging the gap between community and law enforcer - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Local agency bridging the gap between community and law enforcers

Major Joseph Arzola Major Joseph Arzola
Major Robert Grabowski Major Robert Grabowski
Colonel Lonnie Haugabrook Colonel Lonnie Haugabrook
CRISP CO., GA (WALB) - Law enforcers in South Georgia are taking a proactive approach to build better relations with the community. The Crisp County Sheriff's Office reached out to the FBI and the Department of Justice for this training session. It's being held for just the second time in the United States.

From the streets of Baltimore, to highways in Ferguson, Missouri, tension is at an all time high between law enforcers and the people they protect. It's prompting the ones behind the badge to ask themselves tough questions.

"What can we do to be better? What can we do to provide a better service to the community?" said Major Joseph Arzola with the Crisp County Sheriff's Office.

That's where the training class comes in.

"We want to take a proactive approach to bridging the gap with the community and working with the community," said Major Arzola.

The first step in doing that is figuring out the best way to interact with citizens--ones obeying the law, but even more importantly, those breaking it.

"With that, the class itself teaches you about civil rights, what you can and can't do, excessive force issues, which seems to be a major trend across the United States," said Major Arzola.

Instructors show cases in the past that have drawn attention, and then show them what could have been done to avoid the negative attention.

"It helps bridge gaps, keeps you checking your policies and procedures, to see if there's any changes that may need to be changed to better the department and the community in which we serve," said Major Robert Grabowski with the Bibb County Sheriff's Office.

"We're here to try to show the public that we're here for what's right," said Colonel Lonnie Haugabrook.

Law enforcers are hopeful it will prevent negative encounters here in South Georgia. Major Arzola said they hope to have this class again in the future.

Around 60 officers from police departments, sheriff's offices, and state departments were in attendance.

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