Who should attend the “Let’s Talk About It” symposium at noon Saturday at Second Baptist Church, 6227 N. Main St.
“Anybody who encounters the police so that they can ask their questions,” Police Chief Keith Dougherty said.
Another member of the group hosting the session, Heron Thomas, said, “I’m purposely calling people that I see on my social media that have voiced concerns, complained, sparked outrage. Come and voice your opinion. You getting behind your keyboard and typing everything and then never coming and letting us know any meaningful, true sentiments that you might have — the police don’t follow you on social media.
“Now is the time when you can come out and have a dialogue with the police officers and come and get answers.
Mayor Brandon Capetillo said he would like to see “Anybody who feels that there is not communication taking place between law enforcement and the local community.”
The three are part of the Baytown Mayor’s Community Engagement Advisory Committee, which was formed after the shooting death of Pamela Turner, a black resident, by a Baytown police officer in May.
The committee consists of about 20 people representing law enforcement, city government and residents from the black, Hispanic and white communities. Their work is facilitated by a Justice
Department representative who has also worked with similar groups in Ferguson and in Florida.
Capetillo, Dougherty and Thomas visited with The Baytown Sun publisher and editors this week about the work the committee and the police department is doing in response to both the shooting and other high-profile clashes between police officers and minority persons.
The committee has asked for details on several police department policies and is reviewing those to possibly recommend changes.
For his part, Dougherty said the department has already beefed up training, especially in the patrol division night shifts.
“My officers are people like any other students out there, and there are some that are reached by different formats, so I’ll use whatever I can.
“That doesn’t mean that they’re doing something wrong--I’m not saying that--but they can always improve things,” he said.
“I just have to get my guys to present a better image, and they can do a better job--some of them do a real good job — and they can reach out to some of those unreachables.”
He said that now lieutenants, as well as sergeants, regularly review body camera video to spot ways officers could improve their interaction with the public.
Both Dougherty and Assistant Chief David Alford, who oversees the patrol division, now periodically drop in on officers while they are responding to calls to see their work in person.
Building trust requires communication, the chief said, which is the purpose of Saturday’s symposium.
“There’s that faction that thinks we do nothing wrong, there’s that faction that think we do nothing right, then there’s that middle ground that’s waiting to see which way it goes, and they’ve heard things, and they want some answers. That’s the group I can impact.”