Mesa Police hold community meeting to improve relations

In light of what is happening in Ferguson, Missouri and across the country, the relationship between police and the public is often seen as strained.

The Mesa Police Department is trying to bridge that gap. The agency held an annual meet and greet with the community to address their needs Thursday evening.

Mesa Police reiterated the importance of community and police relationships. Throughout the year they meet with various community groups and Thursday night they brought them all together to discuss various issues.

"It's important to keep the lines of communications open, it's definitely important to have this type of dialogue," said Roy Tatem with the National Association of Colored People. 

Mesa Police at the meeting announced a new community engagement and employee services bureau. "Our police department has an entire bureau that is responsible for community engagement and partnership, it really sets the stage that this is that important to our police department," said Interim Chief John Meza.

The announcement and forum comes one day after two police officers were shot in Ferguson Missouri during a protest. And it comes following a report that some east valley police departments have arrest rates of African Americans that are higher than those in Ferguson, Missouri.

Mesa Police say there is a disparity in the data, but Tatum feels it should still be addressed.

"Even with the clarification we feel the numbers are way too high, we feel there has to be a stronger dialogue between the police department and the community at large, and the African American community in particular," said Tatem.

Mesa's interim chief says he is aware of how police are being perceived in some communities.

"The common denominator is the relationship between the community and police department," said Meza

Mesa Police say they have always had a good relationship with the community and want to keep it that way.

"This is something that is critical to policing in the future," he said.

The City of Mesa is currently doing a nationwide search for a police chief to replace Frank Milstead, who was appointed to head up the Arizona Department of Public Safety earlier this year.
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