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U.S. Department of Justice holds second community listening session to discuss Ft. Pierce policing

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Posted at 8:39 PM, Feb 08, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-08 23:53:38-05

Resident Michael Jackson's experience with the Fort Pierce police can be summed up in a run in one day he had at a Walmart.

“We walked directly past them and clearly said ‘hey, how are you, how you doing’? And we didn't even get a nod nor a response,” he says.

It was one of several stories at a Department of Justice listening session, where the tone ranged from frustration, to cautious optimism, to fear.

“You need 8 cops within three minutes to show up for a taillight violation?” one concerned resident asked.

For one resident, there was an overwhelming feeling of pessimism.

“I don't think anything is going to change because some of the police officers on the force are prejudiced,” he says. “As long as you have that sitting in the police car, we're going to have a problem.”

Homeowners told News Channel 5 how they feel is a culmination of years of tension in the city.

It's why the DOJ was brought in to take feedback and provide solutions.

Michael said the feelings aren't all bad and the interactions - in the case of his grandson - are not all negative.

“He has several sheriffs and police department stickers at home. And he loves that. And I love the fact that he's interested.”

However, he fears that relationship is changing.

“He’s slowly pulling away from that because of what he sees,” Michael says.

He says it’s his goal to get to the root of the issues and repair not only that relationship - but the one between his community and the police department.

“Communication, involvement...I think it'll make some changes. May not be the answers to everything, but it's a start.”

The session, the last of two scheduled sessions, was just one step in a two year process. 

The findings from those forums will be compiled into a report over the next 8 to 9 months.

The changes recommended in that report will be implemented sometime in the next 18 months. 

 

EARLIER STORY

Residents in Fort Pierce are voicing their concerns with the police department directly to the U.S. Department of Justice.

The DOJ is holding a listening session at the Percy Peak Gymnasium in Ft. Pierce Wednesday at 6PM - the second  session in as many months.

The session provides a rare opportunity for the community speak directly to the DOJ about the problems they see - while discussing potential solutions.

This forum Wednesday is part of a 2 year reform plan for the department.

It comes in the wake of the controversial police involved shooting of Demarcus Semer last April.

The officers were cleared in the shooting - but many in the community still say they want justice.