SALT LAKE CITY — Police in Utah need to reach out to communities more often and do more cop de-escalation training, and if you’re going to protest, do it in peace, advises the leader of a civil rights organization in Utah.
Jeanetta Williams, president of the NAACP Salt Lake City branch, joined Dave Noriega and Debbie Dujanovic to discuss the wave of nationwide protests over the death of an unarmed black man in police custody in Minneapolis and its ramifications in Utah.
Advice for police
“What’s at the core of the anger toward police? And are there tangible things that you would like to see in police departments that are practical and real difference makers?” Dave asked.
“More open dialogue with the community,” Williams said. “Reach out to the community . . . and not just when things like this happen. We want all of the police departments to do more training in de-escalation.
“And making sure that things like this, when they happen, that the police officers are looking at it as this could be my brother, my sister, my mother, my dad or something like that. Not just looking at it like ‘I’m going to make this arrest regardless of how the outcome is going to be,'” Williams said.
Williams also called for enacting civilian review boards with subpoena powers that work in conjunction with police departments. She noted that West Valley City and Salt Lake City both have civilian review boards.
Do’s and don’ts
Williams said she has a good working relationship with first responders.
“When things happen, they will call, and we’ll talk and discuss how to handle whatever situation it might be,” she said.
Williams said the NAACP published a booklet titled “The NAACP Real World Guide to Interacting with Law Enforcement,” which outlines the do’s and don’ts if approached by police.
Williams stressed that every American has the right to protest but she said all should demonstrate in a non-violent way.
“Don’t go out hurt each other nor the police officers,” she said. “What happened in Minneapolis put all police officers’ lives in danger.”
Williams noted that a police officer was shot on the Las Vegas Strip and was on life support after protests Monday night. A suspect was taken into custody, according to a FOX5 news report.
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