New Rochelle police, NAACP discuss ways to improve relationship with Black community
New Rochelle police are taking steps to improve its public relationship, specifically with the Black community.
Members of the police, community and local NAACP took part in a discussion Tuesday night about handling interactions with law enforcement.
Topics included handling traffic stops, filming the police and civilian complaints.
The NAACP says data shows police are five times more likely to stop a Black person than a white person without cause.
Community leaders say they hope continuing the conversation about race and policing will ease tensions before these interactions go too far.
Retired officer Paul Hood is the president of the Westchester-Rockland Guardians, which helps minority officers address their communities' needs.
"Seeing us in uniform and helping other people in the community gives people hope,” Hood says. "We are here to highlight and bring out the good but also try to find the things that can be worked on to bridge that gap."
The forum focused on knowing your rights and remaining calm around officers.
"One of the most effective ways of building trust is getting to know each other, and dialogue is the best way for intimacy and solutions,” says Minister Mark Mclean, the president of the New Rochelle NAACP.
New Rochelle Police Commissioner Robert Gazzola says this discussion helps raise expectations between officers and the public.
"Hopefully, this will help facilitate any contact we may have with the community in the future,” he says.
Gazzola says he'll take what he heard at the meeting back to his officers to make sure the message is received across the department.