Community looks at building relationships between police and Hoosiers

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COLUMBUS, Ind. (Dec. 16, 2014)-- Various local leaders want to build stronger relationships between police officers and the community in light of incidents in other states.

On Tuesday, several ministers met with the police chief and the mayor to discuss how to improve those partnerships so that issues do not escalate.

Bishop Charles Sims, Calvary Community Church of the Apostolic Faith, said these meetings are held regularly.

“What we’re concerned about is the safety of all citizens in this community,” Bishop Sims said.

Bishop Sims and other community leaders have paid close attention to the incidents in New York and Ferguson.

“I think the unrest in the country and the incidents that have been happening such as (the ones) I just mentioned throughout the nation (are) cause for great concern,” Bishop Sims said.

Columbus Police Chief Jon Rohde has been in office since May. He said partnerships with organizations like the African American Ministries Alliance are a priority.

“The core is developing a relationship with everybody. (It) doesn’t matter what race or ethnicity,” Chief Rohde said.

Chief Rohde said he is confident his officers know and follow the department’s policies and procedures.

The department has been looking into purchasing body cameras since June. They have tested a few body cameras already. It is something many agencies have considered recently.

“We feel really good about that and that’s something that I think is going to be implemented in the near future,” Bishop Sims said.

Something else the department is looking into is the diversity of their department. Chief Rohde said he wants to look at it more closely next year. They said 3 percent of the population in Columbus is African American and 4 percent of their officers are African American. The Latino population in Columbus is 6 percent and 4 percent of their officers are Latino.

“But, we don’t just stop there. We want to continue to recruit everybody and at the end of the day, we’re going to hire the best available candidate,” Chief Rohde said.

Bishop Sims said the conversations among everyone are encouraging and necessary.

“I think it’s good to talk about things. It’s good to be proactive than reactive,” Bishop Sims said.

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