FORT PIERCE, Fl. -- Building trust between Fort Pierce Police and the community.
Thursday night, nearly 100 residents met with officials with the Department of Justice COPS program, or Community Oriented Policing Service.
It was a rare opportunity for the residents to directly tell the DOJ the concerns they have with police, and the changes they would like to see in the department.
A number of people told the DOJ about disappointing encounters they have had with police.
Others said they wanted to continue seeking justice for Demarcus Semer, a man shot and killed by Fort Pierce Police in April. The officers were cleared of criminal wrongdoing.
"The best thing that can come out of this meeting tonight is to really hear the concerns of the citizens, to get a good snapshot of the issues that are priorities for them,” said Troy Williams, Senior Program Manager for the COPs office.
It’s part of a 24-month reform initiative for the Fort Pierce Police Department. The DOJ’s COPS officials will spend time assessing the department, hearing from the community and building a reform plan with their recommendations to present to the department.
Residents asked questions and presented ideas. They included:
-Police doing more to work with the youth in schools.
-Creating a task force targeting repeat offenders.
-Implementing body cameras.
-A community review board to review actions of the police department.
-Weeding out officers who do not have a ‘heart’ for what they’re doing.
The next community COPS meeting will be in January in the Lincoln Park neighborhood.
The DOJ asks police not to attend the meetings.