The Dayton Mediation Center and two Dayton police officers want to help ease tensions following reports of white officers shooting unarmed black people in recent months, including the nearby shooting of John Crawford III at the Beavercreek Walmart.
Dayton Police Officers Zachary Williams and Terry Perdue, who are both black, approached the Dayton Mediation Center with concern over public discourse over the recent events. The center agreed to host a series of community forums like the one taking place Friday in Trotwood. The forum is called “Putting the Pieces Together...Police and the Community.”
Officer Williams says police and their communities have to stand on common ground.
“With the community on our side things are a lot better, the communities are a lot safer, you have neighbors watching neighbors and working with police officers to ensure the quality of those neighborhoods aren’t going down," he said.
According to Williams, the forums give residents a chance to meet the officers serving in their neighborhoods.
“It definitely gives people the time to sit and talk with a police officer, and realize that the officer they’re talking to is as much a human as they are.”
Williams says other efforts to strengthen relationships between police and communities are being developed. He cites a Dayton Human Relations Council effort to develop a police ride-a-long program for area youth, and says more forums are expected.
Michelle Zaremba, with the mediation center issued a statement saying, “There have been few opportunities to bring police and citizens together to have meaningful, constructive conversations with each other to build understanding and trust. This is a grass-roots effort and the police and community will determine where these forums are headed.”
Friday's event takes place at the Ginghamsburg Point Campus on East Main Street in Trotwood at 5:30 p.m. Organizers say space is limited, and about 100 individuals will take part in small group discussions during the event. About 80 individuals had signed up as of Thursday.
CORRECTION: Because of an editing error, a previous version of this story referenced the Dayton Human Relations Council and the Dayton Police Department as sponsors of this forum. It is being held by the Dayton Mediation Center, not the HRC.