Community meets with Charleston police to share their hopes, concerns

VIDEO: Community meets with Charleston police to share their hopes, concerns
Source: Live 5 News
Source: Live 5 News

CHARLESTON COUNTY, SC (WCSC) - More than 100 people attended the Illumination Project sessions Tuesday, focused on improving police-community relations.

In the two sessions, at the Hellenic Center at the Greek Orthodox Church, people shared ideas they feel will strengthen trust in law enforcement and community trust.

Among the suggestions? Taking selfies with the men and women in blue.

It was an idea, many ended up doing, to lighten the mood and bring laughter to an often tense conversation.

"Many think negative thoughts about police," Paige Hatley said. "They see police officers as there to reprimand and there if something goes wrong."

Hatley even admitted she doesn't always think the best of law enforcement and it almost kept her away on Tuesday.

"I was skeptical on whether or not I was going to be able to make it," Hatley said. "But, I'm so glad I did."

Suggestions were written on posters around the room at the Hellenic Center at Greek Orthodox Church.
People then checked off ideas they supported, like, "If you see something, say something."

City of Charleston Police Chief Greg Mullen said events like this are so important right now.

"There's been a lot of challenges, dealing with the police, specifically over the last 18-24 months," Chief Mullen said. "That brings light to that relationship between the community and the police that whether we're trusted or not."

He encouraged everyone to open his/her mind.

"Before I pre-judge you, or you pre-judge me, let's sit down and talk about it and see if we can't build a relationship," Chief Mullen said.

That relationship was front in center as people got to know each other through conversation.
They shared ideas and concerns like what children think of law enforcement.

"Sometimes they hear the negative things adults have to say and adults are making a huge impression," Erin Fisher said.

They tossed around problems and ideas, like more communication and even taking selfies.

So, whether it was the pictures or the conversation, or both, many left feeling encouraged.

"Thanks for taking the time to listen," Fisher said.

Chief Mullen said more than 400 people have participated in the 3 Illumination Project session days so far.

There are four more session dates left. For more information on those meetings, click HERE.

To fill out a survey with your thoughts on strengthening community-police relations, click HERE.

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