With the appointment of Police Chief Mike Brown to lead our police force, we took a positive turn in community outreach and relationship building among police and our residents. Chief Brown is a veteran of the SLCPD and highly respected by his team. He was a pivotal factor, along with our Mayor’s Office Community Empowerment Team, in bringing together our diverse community last summer for an evening of candid, difficult, and productive discussions focused on police/community relations.
The event, called “Transforming Together,” resulted in about 200 Salt Lake City residents, police officers, and community activists meeting in small groups to talk openly about simmering tensions and increasing violence between police and civilians. Our conversations, led by trained facilitators, were held just days after five Dallas police officers were shot to death by a sniper as they monitored a peaceful protest against police violence, and spurred in part by the Black Lives Matter movement that swept the country in 2016.
The conversations were emotional and powerful, with nearly half of the participants coming from communities of color. Many identified as refugees or immigrants. Discussion topics included police training, adding more racial, ethnic, and gender diversity to police ranks, the Civilian Review Board process, and more.
Follow-up conversations will be held in 2017.
Chief Brown and his team have also responded to calls for stronger community policing and extra patrols in response to citizen complaints about criminal activity in neighborhoods and parks.
A big part of that responsiveness to citizens lies with our Community Intelligence Unit (CIU), officers who are assigned to the city’s six council districts. They meet regularly with our Community Councils, and make a point of meeting residents and listening to their concerns. They represent the concept of community policing at its finest, and I am honored to work as their mayor.
For up-to-date information on the Civilian Review Board, please visit the Police Civilian Review Board page on SLC Gov.com.