Community conversation encourages dialogue between citizens, pol - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Community conversation encourages dialogue between citizens, police

The panel was made up of community leaders and law enforcement officers of Harrison County. (Image Source: WLOX News) The panel was made up of community leaders and law enforcement officers of Harrison County. (Image Source: WLOX News)
The town hall series will continue to be held at Mt. Bethel Missionary Baptist Church on 30th Avenue in Gulfport. (Image Source: WLOX News) The town hall series will continue to be held at Mt. Bethel Missionary Baptist Church on 30th Avenue in Gulfport. (Image Source: WLOX News)
Citizens were able to ask questions or express concerns with the way law enforcement officers respond in the community. (Image Source: WLOX News) Citizens were able to ask questions or express concerns with the way law enforcement officers respond in the community. (Image Source: WLOX News)
GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) -

A Gulfport church is making strides toward opening the line of communication between law enforcement and citizens. From what to do when being stopped by the police, to citizens simply saying thank you to those who protect and serve. 

A variety of topics were covered at part one of the series entitled "The Public and The Police" at Mt. Bethel Missionary Baptist Church in Gulfport.

The Rev. J.C. Wilks said in light of recent shootings of black men by police officers, now is a good time to have an honest and constructive conversation.  Gulfport Police Chief Leonard Papania encouraged those in attendance to stop looking at national news and trying to paint that narrative here.

"I get so aggravated when we hear this national story and everybody wants to bring it to Gulfport and see if we can make it fit here. It's just not us," said Papania.

Harrison County Sheriff Troy Peterson said he believes the recent headline grabbing shootings in Baton Rouge, LA and Minnesota would not have resulted in death had the civilians just complied. 

"The biggest thing is comply. The NAACP president came out a couple weeks ago, and his statement was comply, comply, comply," said Peterson.

The conversation seemed to allow many of those in attendance to express their concerns with the way law enforcement officers handle situations or just ask questions about things happening in their community. 

The church will host two more community conversations. The public is encouraged to attend.

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