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Meeting will bring police, community members together to discuss challenging issues

SHARE Meeting will bring police, community members together to discuss challenging issues
A meeting between police and the community will be held Monday.

A meeting between police and the community will be held Monday.


An effort to unite police and the community continues this week.

The quarterly Utah Law Enforcement Multicultural Affairs meeting will take place Monday, Aug. 29, at 2 p.m. at the Salt Lake City Police Department located at 475 S. 300 E. with the purpose of building trusting and understanding relationships between law enforcement and members of the community.

Police and members of the community will meet to "discuss how to better unite police and our diverse communities for a mutual cause — transparency and understanding," according to a news release. The effort, which began a year ago, was led by Commissioner Keith D. Squires of the Utah Department of Public Safety and members of Utah Gov. Gary Herbert's Martin Luther King Jr. Commission for Human Rights.

The event will be streamed live on DeseretNews.com.

"This brings together individuals from all perspectives and backgrounds and gives us a platform for exchanging information and ideas," Squires said.

The MLK Jr. Commission contacted police in August 2015 to see if they would support an open meeting to discuss issues with the community. With the support of law enforcement officials, the group began hosting the meetings as a safe space for residents and police to candidly discuss challenges they both face to find the best solutions.

"We want to have the best relationships that we can and this gives us an opportunity to find ways to better communicate and serve all of our communities in the state," Squires said. "We want everyone to feel that they have a trusting relationship with law enforcement agencies and officers."

This meeting takes on extra meaning as violence has erupted in recent months in Dallas, Minnesota and Louisiana, making tension between law enforcement and minority communities a part of the national conversation.

"The media focuses on the negative side of these events," said Rob Harter, chair of the MLK Jr. Commission. "To me, this meeting is a positive event that encourages people to come together and proactively discuss a difficult issue. We need to talk it out before another tragedy happens."

"The fact that we have law enforcement officers that are open to discussing the issues is a great building block," Harter said. "We still have a long way to go, but it is a very positive sign."

Harter hopes this added openness and accessibility to the meeting, including the DeseretNews.com livestream, will encourage more people to be involved in the issues.

"This is not a single community issue," Harter said. "This issue affects all of us and all of us need to pay attention to this issue. We won't get to the root of it and the issue won't be solved unless everyone is involved."

Issues for discussion at the meeting include the recruitment of officers and how to create a more diverse police force, community-oriented policing, training procedures for police officers and policies regarding police use of force.