ORLANDO, Fla. – On Wednesday, Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer and city commissioners joined Orlando Police Chief Orlando Rolón to jumpstart a new trust initiative to address racial inequality in The City Beautiful.
The Community Trust and Equity Initiative is Central Florida‘s next phase of action, city leaders said.
“Today we further our commitment to making meaningful change and take the next steps in building a more equitable city for every person who calls Orlando home,” Dyer said in a news release. “We also reaffirm our partnership with our community to continue to work together to end systemic racism and create an Orlando where every resident is equally valued, equally protected and has equitable access to opportunities.”
According to a news release, the next phase, which is a multi-pronged approach, will involve:
- An independent third-party analysis and recommended reforms of Orlando Police Department policies, training, operational practices, accountability systems and technologies.
- A partnership with the Bethune-Cookman University Center for Law and Social Justice to launch a unique community engagement program in the Parramore and Washington Shores neighborhoods to utilize interactive training for Orlando Police officers together with Orlando residents, youth and community leaders.
- A feedback opportunity to get information from members of the public on their experience during interactions with Orlando Police officers to help the city utilize that data to drive further changes where necessary.
The new initiative will launch in October following the city council’s approval of the contracts with The Bowman Group and the Bethune-Cookman University Center for Law and Social Justice.
“Orlando will be able to take more action to identify additional reforms and programs that can be implemented to ensure that police policies and training translates into officers working better and together with the community,” officials said. “These steps will also support Orlando police officers and help them to better serve residents.”
“We’ll be able to identify policies, training and practices and make recommendations on how a good police department can become even better,” said Dr. Theron Bowman, former Arlington, Texas police chief.
Dr. Randy Nelson, a nationally recognized law enforcement trainer, will be engaging with residents in Parramore and Washington Shores to hear how OPD can improve and he will also train officers.
“There are elements of law enforcement that should not be into law enforcement. There are elements in law enforcement that we should not let into law enforcement,” Nelson said.
With so many nationwide protests, even right here in Central Florida after George Floyd was killed, Alfonso Watson told News 6 he feels there’s a big disconnect between police and the community.
“Seeing the recent things happening in the world and the community, it makes you not trust the cops,” Watson said. “Some people, they don’t like the police and you have some people they may communicate with them every now and then.”
He said he appreciates what the city is doing to better improve community relations.
Community engagement and input will be critical in the initiative and the city is encouraging Orlando residents to visit orlando.gov/equity to sign up for updates and learn about future opportunities.
The city said the total cost for the new imitative is $850,000.