Community Leaders to Talk Police, Race Relations at Forum

Sharon Bulova/File photoFairfax County Supervisor Chair Sharon Bulova and Police Chief Ed Roessler will lead the community in a forum addressing race relations, police, justice and unity this weekend.

“Communities Working Together: Justice, Unity & Peace Town Hall,” is hosted by the Fairfax County Communities of Trust Committee. The forum is Saturday, Sept. 10 from 1 to 3 p.m. at Centreville Baptist Church, 15100 Lee Highway, Centreville.

Said Bulova in a press release:

“The key to building communities of trust is establishing positive relationships between law enforcement and the communities they serve.”

“With the continued violence against unarmed black men and women, and recent attacks on police officers across the nation, Fairfax County is inviting residents, public officials and law enforcement to engage in important and difficult conversations in order to listen and learn from one another.”

The event will be an opportunity to share and discuss Fairfax County public safety initiatives, listen and respond to concerns from local residents, and discuss suggestions for growth and improvements in the area of community policing, Bulova said.

At the forum, Police officers will talk about what it is like working on the street, and residents will discuss their encounters with police. Communities Working Together will also engage the audience to learn about their roles and responsibilities in keeping our neighborhoods safe and enhancing trust within the community.

Speakers include Bulova and Braddock District Supervisor John Cook.

Panelists include Chief Roessler; Giulio Arseni, Supervisory Special Agent, FBI Civil Rights Division; Hilary Shelton, NAACP Washington Bureau Director and Senior Vice President for Advocacy;  Claire Gastañaga, Virginia American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Executive Director; and Pastor Milton Harding, Centreville Baptist Church

The Communities of Trust Committee (COTC) is a committee of residents, community leaders and public safety representatives that was established by Chairman Bulova in the aftermath of events in Ferguson, Mo., two years ago.

COTC members focus on strengthening and building positive relations between public safety agencies and the communities they serve, with special emphasis on law enforcement, to advance collaboration, partnerships and outreach.

Members bring issues and concerns from their respective communities to the table and discuss possible resolutions and implementation strategies.

COTC, chaired by Fairfax County NAACP President Shirley Ginwright, has so far held four community forums and three Public Safety Days.

Photo: Sharon Bulova/File photo

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