Categories: News, Today Foundation News
By Jacob Ian Snyder
Mabank High School
On January 8th, 2017, TLF hosted the 4th Annual Youth Summit. The purpose? To evaluate how to better the relationship between police and the community. TLF was honored to host the Dallas Youth Summit in partnership with Safer Dallas, Better Dallas, the Rotary Club of Dallas and the Dallas Police Department. Interim DPD Chief David Pughes opened the meeting, followed by our keynote speaker, Honorable Michael L. Williams. Mr. Williams stressed how crucial this conversation was and urged students to stop and assess a situation before reacting.
We had eight panelists who gave their input on the issue at hand. The panel consisted of Eric Johnson, State Representative from District 100; Steve Pickett, reporter with CBS 11 for 21 years, covering issues such as gang violence, white supremacist groups and general assignments; Cristella Oviedo, TLF 2016, Irving High School; Detective Angela Garza, Senior Corporal with DPD; Vivian Nguyen, TLF 2016, Irving High School; Gary Tittle, Assistant Chief with the Dallas Police Department; Pastor Richie Butler, St. Paul United Methodist Church and Larry Terry, director of the SERCH Institute for the Improvement of the Community Through Education Research and Community Leadership at UNT Dallas. Dallas District Attorney, Faith Johnson, also attended and expressed her support.
With issues arising concerning a shooting in Ferguson, MO, the riots in Baltimore, and the most recent shootings in Dallas, TLF students wanted to start a grassroots movement with the hopes that it would evolve into something more and truly make a difference. The main ideas brought forth were that there must be an understanding among the community that the police have a job to do as public servants, but citizens are engendering fear of police in their children and the communication is lacking. We profile the police as bad individuals just as much as they profile us, and that’s where the level of understanding is lost. Police are citizens just like the rest of us. On the community level, there needs to be a balance. Police do not need to have any reason to use a weapon or excessive force in the first place. If a situation seems to be escalating, it’s the true job of the police to deescalate that situation, but in an instance where control of the situation is lost, it becomes the job of the citizen to relax and bring control back into the picture. So, arising from this conversation were many great points for both sides, but the overall goal is to eliminate the very idea of “sides” between police and the community. We are all humans. We are all citizens. Now, it’s up to the community to take this conversation further and keep the fire blazing. TLF isn’t going to stop anytime soon, but we need YOU to get involved.