The Diverse Business Council of Tuscaloosa hosted a virtual round table discussion on community policing in the wake of protests and suggestions of change after Minneapolis resident George Floyd was killed at the hands of police.

The Bridging The Gap session brought law enforcement, business leaders and faith-based communities around Tuscaloosa together for a discussion about community policing.

Their goal was having an open conversation with the community about race relations, economic development through diverse businesses, public safety and transparency from law enforcement.

“We have to be part of the conversation of any barriers to growth in diverse businesses in our community,” said Diverse Business Council Chairwoman Mildred Hooks.

Floyd’s death sparked protests around the nation calling for an end to systemic racism against black people and major police reforms.

“I can tell you for the past two weeks since the murder of George Floyd, I have not only been listening, but, I have been learning,” said Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox. “I’ve learned there’s certain types of pain and experience that quite frankly I won’t understand. I also learned that for all that we’ve been doing, and I’m proud of what we’ve been doing in the city of Tuscaloosa, that there’s more required from me.”

Tuscaloosa Police Chief Brent Blankly and Tuscaloosa County Sheriff Ron Abernathy discussed their role when it comes to community policing.

“I want to see officers walk through every area of town and talk with people,” Blankley said. “Not necessary about police stuff, just to interact. I think that we do need to bridge the gap between law enforcement and the community.”

Abernathy said he agrees, and it’s not just up to officers who patrol the streets.

“I think its all about interacting with your community both from the lowest level of law enforcement officer all the way to the highest,” Abernathy said.

The Diverse Business Council will be announcing more virtual events in the future.

Watch the event right here.

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