ORLANDO, Fla. – Dozens of Central Florida law enforcement officers gathered Thursday morning at the Experience Christian Center in Orange County for a candid conversation and listening session to hear firsthand from pastors and community leaders.
The group gathered as protests continue nationwide in response to the death of George Floyd, a black man killed in Minneapolis police custody.
They purpose of the gathering was to discuss race relations, more police accountability, ways to better bridge the gap in the community and even a need for more policy changes.
“We all hurt from not only George Floyd, but it’s been so many, like it’s history - we can’t keep going through these same cycles,” said Derrick McRae, a pastor at the Experience Christian Center.
He’s like many pastors and leaders working to better bridge the gap between police and the community while holding law enforcement officers accountable. McRae is a father of two sons and said it’s time now more than ever for the cycle to stop.
“This is a different pulse now, and we’re saying 'we’re not going to go through this again,” McRae said. “And even policies are not enough. We really have to start mobilizing some legislation.”
Roderick Zak was also in attendance. He's the pastor at Rejoice in the Lord Ministries in Apopka. He said the conversation was needed.
“It was a great forum, to talk about reform, best practices, accountability, diversity,” Zak said.
The Orlando police chief and Orange County sheriff also attended and agree the conversation is necessary.
“We need to hear from the community," Orlando Police Chief Orlando Rolon said. “We need to basically accept the fact that although we may think we’re doing the best job ever, there’s always room for improvement.”