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Building trust with ‘constructive dialogue’

Local college students and law enforcement officers participate in a group discussion during the Collegiate Trust Talk on Tuesday, April 4.

Building trust with ‘constructive dialogue’
April 13
07:30 2017

Photo by Tevin Stinson

BY TEVIN STINSON 

THE CHRONICLE

Last week local college students sat down with law enforcement officers to openly discuss ways to build trust on campus and in the community.

Campus police and students from Forsyth Tech, Salem College, North Carolina School of the Arts, Wake Forest, and Winston-Salem State University (WSSU) were all present during the Collegiate Trust Talk hosted by the city’s human relations department.

Members of the Winston-Salem Police Department and representatives from the Forsyth County District Attorney’s Office were also in attendance.

“This is a learning experience for the students and law enforcements,” said Wanda Allen-Abraha, human relations director.

“It’s important that we have constructive dialogue and that we exchange ideas so both students and officers can receive feedback and hopefully learn from it.”

During the trust talk held inside City Hall, officers and students were put into groups to discuss several topics, including police responsiveness, inappropriate student behavior, campus safety, stereotypes and perceptions, and on-and-off student activities. Throughout the discussions, a moderator took notes and made a list of the top three concerns for each group.

After the sit down with law enforcement, Wake Forest freshman Tariq Shanks said he gained a better understanding of how things are handled on campus and in the community.

“I got to speak with an officer from Wake Forest so that was really helpful. He let me know what officers do to train for things like bias.”

Robert Reynolds III a rising sophomore at WSSU, said although he learned a lot during the forum, to build a true working relationship between students and law enforcement, the conversations must carry over to each individual campus.

“The students who are here today can’t speak for an entire population,” said Reynolds. “Events like this definitely work, but we have to build relationships with students on campus.”

A campus police officer at WSSU, Jorge Batista said he enjoyed sitting down with students and getting their perspective on how things are handled on campus. He said the biggest issues the students had in his group was trust and understanding.

“We’re doing the best we can but there are some areas that we need to work on,” said Batista. “After sitting down with the students, I learned that we need to be more involved. Overall, we received good reviews from the students; they would just like to see more of us.”

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