More than 100 people gathered at a town hall meeting in East Stuart Thursday night to start rebuilding the relationship between law enforcement and the community.
Inside Ground Floor Farm, law enforcement leaders, city commissioners, State Attorneys, judges and community activists heard questions from concerned residents.
“What is the proper protocol when it comes to law enforcement contact with a civilian during a traffic stop?”
“Why are young black males being released from prison and back into the community to be harassed by law enforcement?”
“What is the ratio of minority officers in the police department?”
“Why is there a disparity between African Americans and Caucasians in reference to bond setting?”
No issue was left off the table.
Law enforcement leaders and representatives of the local judicial system answered questions and corrected misinformation.
“There is a lot more trust than some of us are willing to admit,” said Martin County Sheriff William Snyder.
He clarified many questions regarding police interactions, reminding residents to let a deputy know in advance if there is a weapon in their car. He urged residents to comply with law enforcement commands, and call 911 if they are worried about being pulled over at night.
“If you feel targeted, racially profiled, stopped improperly or mistreated, comply… Comply and then complain.”
Law enforcement leaders said they want to know if their officers or deputies are not treated people correctly.
Across the street, a local baseball coach, who wanted to only be referred to by his first name, Scott, said the solution to rebuilding relationships is simple. It’s something he teaches kids out on the diamond.
“I think it’s just respect is not based on an age or profession. It’s just respect for humanity. I mean, I’m showing the kids the same amount of respect. If you’re asking them to respect you, you should give the same respect,” Scott said.
A peace rally is being held Saturday in 9am in Stuart at the corner of Tarpon Ave. and MLK Blvd near the Stuart Police Department.
Law enforcement officers are also attending to continue the momentum made at Thursday’s town hall.