LYNCHBURG, Va/. - Riots this year in cities like St. Louis have shown us that the concern over racial stereotyping and a distrust of police is still very much alive, so local police are trying to teach people how to behave during something as simple as a traffic stop.
The event, hosted in Lynchburg's Miller Center by police and the NAACP, is part of the larger goal of bridging the gap between police and minorities.
Police showed how people can make their interactions with officers go as smoothly as possible, with officers acting out what can happen if it doesn't.
They showed Tuesday how simple interactions with an officer can turn bad, real fast.
"Why am I under arrest, I didn't do nothing man," Officer Luther Rose said during the reenactment.
It's an attempt to reach out to a community that may not feel the law is on their side.
"No one trusts the officers and I don't know if it's because of, maybe you have something that you have to hide or you just don't trust police officers in general," Kelly Brown said, who attended the meeting with her granddaughter Amaré. Rose played the non-compliant civilian.
"You get to see first hand that a lot of the trouble people get into, it comes from not complying. There's only really two things that the law requires you to do. Identify yourself to police and comply with whatever orders you're given," Rose said.
Rose said most often, officers are simply concerned for their own safety. Brown said that perspective is something she's glad she can expose her daughter to.
"I'm not harassing you per se because you are a black male, I'm not doing that. It's because I have probable cause," said Brown.
"You never know why police are getting out with you and it could be just because they got the wrong person," said Rose.
Officers addressed real life situations where police stops can quickly turn deadly. It demonstrates why officers need everyone to comply with the orders they give on-scene.
"In order for them to have a greater respect for the officers, they need to understand what the officers are doing, and you have to bring your children out to meetings like this. This is a great forum," Brown said.
And for those who didn't make it Tuesday...
"They should come to these meetings and learn about all this stuff and figure out what's going on if you don't watch the news," Amaré Brown said.
The department said it's already planning to host another forum like the one Tuesday at the Miller Center. It's an effort to continue to grow the department's Community Action Team, that began just two years ago.
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