On Dec. 7, the Georgia Municipal Association (GMA) in partnership with the cities of College Park and East Point, hosted more than 100 elected city officials, municipal law enforcement officials and community members at the Georgia International Convention Center for GMA’s Regional Symposium on Community Policing.
Presenters and panelists included members of various municipal police departments, the faith community, mayors, MARTA police and a keynote address from community outreach organizer, Assistant U.S. Attorney Laurel R. Boatright. Boatright presented on the steps of a successful Drug Market Intervention plan. The regional symposium was cosponsored by Aerotropolis Atlanta and Virtual Citadel Inc.
Symposium facilitator, East Point Councilmember Stephanie Gordon, expressed the importance of this gathering to attendees. “Tragedies across the nation have demonstrated a dire need to strengthen the bonds of trust between our communities and law enforcement,” she said. “It is imperative that our role in community policing be properly defined so that we can efficiently meet the needs of our communities and the guardians who are sworn to serve and protect them.”
Session topics included barriers dividing police and the community, and methods to bridge the gap between law enforcement and those they serve.
In a session dedicated to officer training and recruitment, Decatur Chief of Police Mike Booker and MARTA Police Chief Wanda Dunham shared best practices and experiences. “People need to see the more human side of law enforcement,” said Booker. “When it comes to training, you have to slow it down to put the ‘due’ on the process and really train those persons to be true police officers.”
“Today’s symposium was a great success,” said GMA’s Executive Director Lamar Norton. “I was proud to see the amount of peer-to-peer engagement surrounding the issues faced by our law enforcement, and attendees actively uncovering methods to foster stronger relationships between police departments and the communities they serve.”
This event is the second in a series of GMA-hosted community policing workshops designed to enlighten law enforcement on all levels and create change. “These officers are our most visible ambassadors and they need everyone's support,” Norton said.
Attendees also heard from Vice Mayor of College Park Joe Carn, GMA’s 2nd
Vice President and Auburn Mayor Linda Blechinger, Fulton County’s Solicitor General Elect Keith Gammage, Deputy Chief Rodney Bryant of the Atlanta Police Department and Patrice Harris M.D., chairperson of the American Medical Association’s Board of Trustees and Georgia Bureau of Investigation’s Director of Professional Standards Fred Mays.