The Waco NAACP hosted a public forum Saturday to establish an open dialogue between local law enforcement agencies and Waco residents.
With tension between minorities and police growing across the country, the NAACP felt the need to be proactive in an effort to prevent situations like Ferguson, Baltimore, and McKinney from happening in the greater Waco area.
Seven panelists made up of Waco police, Waco ISD officers, attorneys and other leaders, discussed many of the topics in the headlines recently, including everything from knowing your rights and what to do if you're stopped by police.
Waco NAACP President Dr. Peaches Henry says she believes this information can save lives.
"When people don't know how to interact with the police, when they themselves are not informed on how they can deescalate situations, then dangerous situations occur,” says Dr. Henry. “Certainly we expect to act professionally but we as citizens can protect our own lives by knowing how we to should interact with them.”
Nearly a few dozen people attended the meeting and were able to voice their concerns and ask questions.
Chief Stroman called the day a success.
"It was informative to the people participating from my side because just the questions allow me to kind of get a window into what's going on with the people, what the concerns are in the community,” says chief Stroman. “That's good for the panel to hear that also.”
Law enforcement in McLennan County has been meeting with community leaders for months behind the scenes before Saturday's public forum.
The NAACP and panelists agree that more should be held in the future.
"We have created an atmosphere for dialogue between the community and the police and law enforcement,” says Dr. Henry. “This is going to be an ongoing conversation and I think that's fabulous.”
“There were more questions than time and so what that tells her [Dr. Henry], the NAACP and also myself is that there will be continued dialogue and that's what I'm hoping for,” says Chief Stroman.