Community and police attend Fort Myers forum focused on ‘bridging the gap’
A mother hosted a meeting to help the kids figure out what to do and what to do if a police officer or sheriff’s deputy ever arrests them.
Community members gathered with Fort Myers police officers for a forum at the STARS complex in Fort Myers on Thursday. Police protocols and personal rights were topics of discussion focusing on “bridging the gap”.
The group has covered a variety of topics with police, including learning about their rights when arrested, to police protocols with someone in mental health crisis.
The forum also aimed to take a step towards rebuilding trust between community members and the police, asking tough questions and getting honest answers.
Fort Myers mother Shenika James hosted the forum, over concerns that one day her 19-year-old son could be profiled by law enforcement officers, such as while driving.
James said she knew she wasn’t the only mother with this fear.
“Let that never happen here locally,” James said. “May we never have a parent to experience what we see publicly. I don’t just do this for my family and for my son, but for the whole community.
It was also about how to work together as a community, the police being part of it.
Everyone who attended the meeting left on the same wavelength: that there is a long way to go to bridge the gap between the community and the police, but being open and willing to have these difficult conversations is a beginning.
“We want to see more of this,” Jacquelyn McMiller said. “We welcome the police”