GA lawmakers to hold public hearings on police shootings - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

GA lawmakers to hold public hearings on police shootings

In response to police shootings and unrest, some state lawmakers are working to improve community relations with law enforcement. (Source: WALB) In response to police shootings and unrest, some state lawmakers are working to improve community relations with law enforcement. (Source: WALB)
State Representative Winfred Dukes (Source: WALB) State Representative Winfred Dukes (Source: WALB)
Albany Police Chief Michael Persley (Source: WALB) Albany Police Chief Michael Persley (Source: WALB)
Persley said thorough training, and efforts like neighborhood watch. (Source: WALB) Persley said thorough training, and efforts like neighborhood watch. (Source: WALB)
ALBANY, GA (WALB) -

In response to police shootings and unrest, some state lawmakers are working to improve community relations with law enforcement.

State Representative Winfred Dukes is helping organize a series of public hearings around the state.

Dukes believes Albany's police chief is doing a good job and strengthening community relations.

Protesters in Charlotte chanted "release the video," demanding transparency after police shot and killed a black man.

But before Charlotte, there was Baton Rouge, and Baltimore, and Ferguson.

Albany Police Chief Michael Persley said his officers work hard to maintain good relations with the people they serve and protect.

"We're the ones that people call when chaos breaks loose so if the community does not have a trust in law enforcement they won't call us," said Persley.

Chief Persley believes in community-oriented policing, but sometimes that isn't enough to prevent violent confrontations.

Three weeks ago, the force was rocked when an Albany officer fatally shot a man with mental health issues who stabbed the officer.

State representative Winfred Dukes believes officers, in general, are more likely to use deadly force against black suspects.

"They arrest all kind of people but the difference is they don't shoot them," said Dukes.

Dukes is working with other legislators to take the problem head on.

"The issue is one of understanding such that people don't really understand different people from different cultures," said Dukes.

"The overall thing is yes we do have a lot of social issues that we need to deal with as a community," said Persley.

So where do we start?

Persley said thorough training, and efforts like neighborhood watch.

But you can't teach everything.

"That's kind of a hard thing because you can't teach someone not to be afraid, that's just in them," said Persley.

Legislators will hold town halls over the next few months.

Based on feedback, Dukes hopes to develop a bill with new regulations on police training, body camera equipment and even the grand jury process.

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