With many recent incidents of African Americans killed by police officers across the country, local leaders in Wilmington are looking for ways to build bridges between law enforcement and communities.
The Wilmington Police Advisory Council is working on ways to increase communication between officers and citizens.
Reverend Patricia Downing, Director of Trinity Episcopal Church in Wilmington, is on the council.
She says one of the council’s suggestions is to designate community centers and churches as “safe havens” where people can self-report issues to police without fear of retaliation.
“Instead of having to go down to the police station to do that where they might feel some intimidation or reticence, might we open that up so that we have a place in the community where they can go?" Downing said.
Downing says the setting could be used for individuals to communicate complaints they have about police officers, to report knowledge about criminal incidents, or simply for help filling out a police report online.
The council was started around two years ago by Mayor Dennis Williams’ administration.
Downing says Wilmington Police Chief Bobby Cummings has been working closely with the council to help implement its suggested solutions.
“His willingness to engage all of the leaders in the community and average citizens on making the police force something that they can trust, something that they can approach and something that they can be in collaboration with to solve issues within the community is really a model that needs to be held up, and he needs to be praised for that," Downing said.