One nonprofit organization is working to bridge the gap between law enforcement and historically-underserved communities by hosting sit-down conversations between the two.
The nonprofit Against All Odds Rise facilitates sit-down conversations with San Antonio police officers and community organizations in an effort to build a relationship.
AAOR Founder Emery Johnson said most people interact with San Antonio police when something goes wrong. This can lead to distrust for historically-underserved communities and officers frustrated with uncooperative neighbors.
Johnson said finding officers willing to take the time to chat is the first step to rebuilding that trust.
“They could have seen somebody arrested thrown on the ground from afar. And it really changed their perspective of what they thought about law enforcement,” Johnson said “There has to be a relationship between the two in order for them to be able to move forward in the right direction.”
AAOR facilitates conversations for adults and youth. Josiah Chatman, who is in the mentorship program called Leaders in Training, said a dialogue helped him see the people in badges–as people first.
“I just look from their perspective. Mainly I would if I was in their shoes with me usually,” Chatman said.
Braylin Salter said as a Black young man, the discussion put him at ease.
“I feel more comfortable talking to them and being around them instead of being scared,” Salter said.
San Antonio Police Association Vice President Scott Ambrose said these talks allow officers to better understand why people are hesitant to work with the police.
“The trust is built right there and that sometimes the lack of communication is what hinders the community and police from working together,” Ambrose said.
To learn more about Against All Odds Rise, go here.