GREENVILLE, S.C. (WSPA) – The Greenville Young Democrats are hosting a forum Thursday evening at St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church for youth and law enforcement.
The goal is improving the relations between the community and police. Both Chief Ken Miller of the Greenville Police Department and the Greenville County Sheriff, Will Lewis will be participating.
“Many African-American youth, Latino youth, Muslim youth, they feel a mistrust of law enforcement,” said Jalen Elrod, the Greenville Young Democrats President. “They feel they can’t go to law enforcement with their problems.”
However, organizers of the forum want to change that perception. They say it’s important to have this dialogue which comes a year after the death of Officer Allen Jacobs.
“It brought to the forefront the conversation here in Greenville, relations between the minority community and police, that there is mistrust on both sides, and that there’s great work to be done,” Elrod said.
The forum will include questions from Greenville Black Lives Matter, The Hispanic Alliance, GenderBenders, The Islamic Society, and Rehinge, a mental health advocacy group.
Fr. Patrick Tuttle, OFM of St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church says they volunteered to host the event because they believe in compassionate dialogue.
“Being in the same space, they can actually listen and talk to each other and that grows understanding,” Fr. Tuttle said.
He says he’s witnessed community policing and says it has a positive impact. He says it’s important for law enforcement to know the community they’re serving. Organizers say that’s the goal of the event they say transcends political affiliations.
“It is incumbent among our political parties not just the Democratic Party, the Republican Party, but all of us to try to better our community in every aspect,” Elrod said.
Elrod says he wants the youth in the community to feel as if they have a voice and can impact change in the city.
Law enforcement says events like this help promote transparency, where they can listen to ideas from the community, and in turn, share their some of their ideas.
“I think it’s important that we’re all on the same page, and not just us and the city, but us and all the municipalities in the county, that we’re all answering these issues, addressing these issues,” said Sgt. Ryan Flood with the Greenville County Sheriff’s Office.
The event is from 6 to 7:30. It’s free and open to the community.