Sonny Weems hoop camp a hit

Police/Community forum a success

Local man organizes event to bring residents, law enforcement together “Horrific deaths of unarmed men and deadly attacks on our Police Officers around the country turned my heart heavy,” explained Cortez Washington. “I felt powerless … that I could not do anything to help.”

But then Washington, who goes by “Tez,” started thinking maybe there was something he could do.

And that led to organizing a Community and Police Forum, a one-day gathering of community resdients and local law enforcement agents last Friday evening at the Crittenden County Boys & Girls Club, with the goal of coming together and working through issues that have resulted from animosity in places across the country between citizens and the police.

The forum included topics such as “How police should treat citizens and how citizens should treat police,” “What to do when approached or pulled over by police,” and “How are West Memphis Police trained” Search and seizure laws, the use of recording devices during an encounter with law enforcement and proper attitude and movement during a traffic stop were also dicussed.

Washington saw a nationwide problem and decided to take action at home.

“I thank God for the idea to start within my own community,” he said. “And doing so took away that powerless feeling. I want to thank Tim Espinoza for allowing us to meet inside of the Boys and Girls club. I want to thank my spiritual leader, Dr. Sharon Nesbitt, for praying over everyone and attending. A special thank you to Captain Joe Baker and his fellow Officers for speaking in full detail about our West Memphis department's success and ways to improve and answering very heated questions from a few of the attendees.” The “Q& A” session allowed the audience to ask specific questions of Capt.

Baker and other officers on hand. The event also included a role-playing session on traffic stops, with examples of expectations from officers and citizens when pulled over or questioned by police.

“Thanks to Tez Washington for hosting a very productive and informative community meeting tonight,” said Capt. Baker.

“The Police Department was proud to be part of this forum and felt like it promoted a great environment for us to interact with the community. We look forward

to having more events like this in the future.”

By Ralph Hardin