Public safety forum offers open dialogue with community members, police chief

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -  Community members voiced their concerns about violence in their communities at IUPUI Thursday night.

It was raw, honest and even heated at times. But everyone was heard. It's an ongoing conversation, but IMPD Chief Bryan Roach says he wants to show his commitment by attending these community conversations, even when he's faced with tough questions from people who are living in the midst of violence.

"This is to the chief. Do you know why black and brown people don't trust the police? Do you honestly know," an audience member asked.

Chief Roach and the city's new director of community violence reduction, Shonna Majors talked face to face with community members who are eager for change.

"It's disappointing. It really is but at the same time what do you do give up? And I think the men and women on the police department are focused. I think the community has had enough. I think that together with a lot of thought and a lot of effort, I think we can get past it," Chief Roach said.

The chief even sought out mentors with proven records of reducing crime in their community. Robert Woodson out of Washington D.C. says his method is changing hearts and the value of life from the perspective of people who already went down the wrong path.

"Men and women who were predators but were transformed, they are powerful witnesses to young people that just because you started life in difficult circumstances...doesn't mean you have to remain there," Woodson said.

With questions and answers that will take time to be proven the chief hopes this is a start. Chief Roach and Shonna Majors even set up future conversations and follow ups with audience members.

The city recently launched a $300,000 investment in neighborhoods to help with violence prevention. The funds will support evidence based violence reduction programming and wraparound services.

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