ORANDO, Fla. – A police consulting group will be taking comments from people Monday night on how Orlando police officers interact with their community.
The virtual event gets underway at 6 p.m. with people prompted to sign up for the meeting using this link.
This meeting is just one of the ways the department hopes to better relations with the community and enhance its law enforcement tactics.
In October, Orlando’s mayor and city council members voted to hire The Bowman Group to scrutinize the Orlando Police Department in what they’re calling the Community Trust and Equity Initiative.
Dr. Theron Bowman, a criminologist, former police chief and assistant city manager, has reviewed departments nationwide, including in Baltimore, Cleveland and Chicago.
“We’re looking at every potential interaction with the police in the Orlando community and we want to make sure we understand people’s perceptions and their interactions with the police,” Bowman said. “We’re still fairly early on in our review but we’re finding there are a lot of people who have had good experiences with the police, and there is some who have some concerns and opportunities to improve.”
Bowman said Monday’s virtual meeting and a second one on Wednesday will seek input on everything from traffic stops to 911 calls to uses of force.
The review is also looking at supervision, training, accountability, policies, procedures and operations.
Orlando Police Chief Orlando Rolón welcomes the review.
“The City of Orlando has opted to bring them in to evaluate us, although there is not that level of a concern for the Orlando Police Department,” Rolón said. “So the feedback that we get from this not only will it show where it is that we’re doing things right, it’ll give us an opportunity to look at the things that we could potentially change moving forward.”
Rolón said he wants to know how to improve, utilizing the feedback to reach the expectations the community may have set for his department.
“We want to know if our citizens feel we’re providing our services to the optimum level that they expect from our officers,” Rolon said. “I also want them to look into what area is it is if there’s room for improvement for us to identify those, obviously through the feedback of our citizens. There’s always room for improvement.”
Since protestors gathered in front of OPD headquarters last summer demanding change, Rolón has banned the use of chokeholds and no-knock warrants, required de-escalation tactics, implemented re-certification yearly instead of every four years, and minimized use of force.
“For example, response to resistance, use of force - did you know that last year we had just over 300 or so responses to resistance and some years ago that was 600,” Rolón said. “Does the average citizen know that in our downtown core between Friday and Sunday morning, the bulk of our response to resistance incidents are taking place where the majority of the bars in all of Central Florida are? Does the average citizen know that many of our officers would have been justified to use some type of lethal force but yet, because of our training, we credit our training staff for this, they’ve been provided the best training possible to allow them to really thoroughly process those situations, to evaluate if that split second option that they may have to make that decision could be applied potentially save someone’s life.”
Rolón said OPD handles around 500,000 calls for service per year.
The consulting group will hold another virtual meeting seeking comments on Wednesday.