NAACP hosts prayer vigil and community conversation

Posted at 1:47 AM, Jul 11, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-11 02:47:07-04

In the wake of the Dallas tragedy and the police shootings in Baton Rouge and Minneapolis, communities across the country are reexamining their relationships with police.

Sunday, Toliver Chapel Baptist Church and the Waco NAACP hosted police and community members for prayer and dialogue in an event called, Bridging the Gap.

Given recent events, Waco NAACP President Dr. Peaches Henry wanted to address possible discrepancies that exist between police and the public.

"I think the gap is a lack of relationships. When you don't know somebody, then you are unable to walk in his or her shoes, you are unable to see the other person as a human being," Dr. Henry said.

In remarks to the crowd, Dr. Henry shared that she believed Waco Police had a good relationship with the black community.

Henry along with several others encouraged the crowd to be “proactive to situations, rather than reactive,” to prevent problems from escalating.

Waco interim Police Chief, Frank Gentsch, said that transparency is one of the key components to maintaining relations.

"We are the community and the community is us. We want to work with the community. We want to be comfortable with the community and we want the community to be comfortable with us,” Interim Chief Gentsch said.

Leaders made clear that accountability, for everyone in the community is vital. Dr. Henry also cautioned people from conflating criticism of police as condemnation or a lack of appreciation for their service.

“We support all police officers who are protecting and serving all of the community. The loss of life of a police officer diminishes us just as much as the loss of an African-American life at the hands of police. All violence of that sort breaks our heart,” Henry said.