ORLANDO, Fla. – A nationally recognized law enforcement trainer hired by the city of Orlando is hosting the first of several community meetings around Orlando aimed at building relationships with people in communities including Parramore, Washington Shores and along Mercy Drive.
Following the death of George Floyd this summer, Orlando Police promised to do more to reach out to the communities they serve and protect, this weekend’s meetings are part of that effort.
Dr. Randy Nelson works for the Bethune Cookman University’s Center for Law and Social Justice. He was hired by the city to help bridge the gap between police and the community.
Over the next few months, Nelson will be hosting a series of community meetings with residents, including with young people, to put together an action plan to present to OPD Chief Orlando Rolon. Nelson said the action plan will consist of ideas gathered from residents as well as the training seminars he hosts with officers.
Nelson said the meetings are invite-only because of the coronavirus pandemic and will consists of a diverse group of people. He said it can benefit residents greatly.
“I think it gives them a healthy respect from a law enforcement perspective,” said Nelson. “The same thing that any parent or community wants -- a safe and nurturing environment to raise their families --that’s the end goal.”
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Nelson spent the past week training OPD officers in Parramore and teaching them about the importance of relationships.
“Some of them are developing relationships, but you can also tell some of the younger (officers), they’re not used to Pine hills, Mercy Drive, so when they go in, you can see they’re uncomfortable,” Nelson said.
Shaniqua Rose lives in Parramore and was invited to attend Saturday’s meeting. She said she values her 5-year-old son’s safety, but also how he views the police.
“It’s important that he doesn’t always see a police officer when it’s something bad. It’s important that he understands that they’re here for different reasons,” said Rose. “I think this is that opportunity to say, ‘how can we come together to make it work.’”
Reshon Moore also plans to be at Saturday’s private meeting.
“We want the officers to develop rapport with the residents not just police duty but really have that relationship,” said Moore. “What’s missing In this community is communication.”