Forum Center, 3/27/12

“Declaration of Intent” Signing an Effort to Improve Police-Community Relations

After the death of 20-year-old Kylen English, which occurred under bizarre circumstances while English was in police custody last July, there was an outcry from many in the community questioning the role the police may have played in his death. According to the police, English died when he escaped from a police cruiser while handcuffed by breaking out the rear window and jumping off the Salem Avenue Bridge. When some in the community questioned the police version of events, the City of Dayton formally requested an investigation of English’s death by the FBI. That investigation is now complete and the resulting report has been forwarded to the Justice Department where it is under review.

Last week a representative of the U.S. Department of Justice joined a coalition of community groups and the Dayton police in signing a nonbinding “declaration of intent” in an effort to improve their relationships. The purpose of the document is to develop a positive, lasting relationship between the Dayton Police Department and the community it serves.

Under the terms of the agreement, members pledge to “foster a positive atmosphere of respect” between citizens and police, to resolve conflict through improved police-community relations and to reduce crime through collaboration among police, citizens and community groups.

Included among the signers of the “declaration of intent” were the president of the local NAACP, members of the clergy, the Dayton police chief, community activists, the president of the Fraternal Order of Police, Dayton’s city manager and other city officials.

While the participants in the signing are hopeful that the document will help to improve police-community relations, some observers question whether the non-binding document will have any effect at all.

Forum Question of the Week:

Is the recently signed “declaration of intent” between the Dayton Police Department and community activists a positive step in community relations or is it a public relations exercise with questionable lasting benefit?

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