The United Christian Leadership Ministry of Western New York held its second “Greater Rochester Regional Summit on Police Community Relations,” led by UCLM president Rev. Lewis Stewart, on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Jan. 16.
Rev. Stewart said UCLM held the summit due to ongoing racial conflict between law enforcement and communities of color.
Brighton Police Chief Mark Henderson co-convened the event.
“We wanted to dig into and have frank discussions regarding racial antagonism, criminal justice impediments as well as police community transparency, responsibility and accountability,” Stewart stated.
Law enforcement officials from Brighton, Ogden, Greece, Rochester, the New York State Police, the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office, and other agencies, as well as clergy, community members and youth participated in the event.
UCLM held its first summit in October, and Stewart said both meetings had been based upon former President Barack Obama’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing, which consisted of pillars that included building trust; crime reduction; policy; training; technology; and officer wellness and safety.
Thus far, both summits have focused on the first pillar, “building trust,” between the community and police.
“It was an initial first step, and we all recognized that this is an ongoing and beneficial process which will not be achieved instantaneously,” Stewart stated. “Change, transformation of attitudes, behavior, and policy is not easy. The process of change oftentimes involves protest, agitation, and raising public awareness. But, in the end, we all must sit down at the table of reason and say, ‘this is what must be done,’ ‘this is what must be implemented.’”
Steve Jarose, of the National Coalition Building Institute, facilitated the program, and over 65 individuals attended the event.
Currently, UCLM is in the process of planning its third summit, which will include “mutual, defined objectives and measurable outcomes,” Stewart said.