Community members look for police reform at Southwest Fresno townhall meeting

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On Tuesday, local and federal law enforcement listened as members of a troubled society spoke up. (KFSN)

A community of faith in Southwest Fresno has been asking for police reform. On Tuesday, local and federal law enforcement listened as members of a troubled society spoke up.

D.J. Criner is a pastor in Southwest Fresno. He's also a leader and a member of Faith in Community.

"There is a hurting community across the nation," Criner said, "but we're talking about Fresno, that is living in fear and in anger at the same time."

He's been stopped by police in different cities, including Fresno, for no reason, he says, other than the color of his skin.

"As I came out of my house, I stepped off my porch and a police car stopped," Criner said, "An officer got out of his car and with his hand on top of his car he yelled out to me, 'what are you doing? Why are you in this neighborhood?' "

Across the nation, a sense of distrust has been building between communities and police but the hope here, at this town hall meeting, is to break down the barriers and the first step is communication.

Pastor Chris Breedlove said, "We want to address that breach of confidence and work on concrete and tangible ways to transform the city and its policies."

In two hours, several concerns came up: the need for police accountability, the amount of people behind bars, waiting to be sentenced, officer involved shootings and the out of town auditors who are assigned to review them.

Police Chief Jerry Dyer said, "There are some hidden angers, within communities of color, what we need to know is, how do we address those issues in a productive manner without venting, becoming angry or defensive."

The Fresno Police Department is already taking action. Officers are being re-trained on use-of-force and implicit bias, which is understanding attitudes and stereotypes that affect our actions, things the Department of Justice has asked for.

U.S. Attorney, Benjamin Wagner said, "They understand that to be effective community police officers, they need to be responding to these issues and Fresno PD is ahead of the curve in terms of responding to them."

Although, there is still a lot of work to be done, relationships to repair and trust to be restored, this commitment to listen will go a long way.
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politicsfresno police departmentfresnojerry dyerFresno - Southwest

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