Efforts to unite community members with law enforcement in Erie are about to take another step forward.
A group of about 30 people all with different occupations have formed together to help unify the city.
The SPCP, which stands for Strengthening Police and Community Partnerships, is a group looking to build trust.
“Lets talk about how we can make things better from both sides. Of course it’s not a one way street. It’s not that police need to do things better so that way the community will trust them. The community also has to step up and form that bridge of the gap,” said Jack Daneri, District Attorney, Erie County.
According to Micheal Outlaw, a leader of the SPCP, the idea for this came after a conversation sparked by the Montrice Bolden Case. Bolden’s arrest by Erie Police in June 2016 prompted accusations of excessive force.
“That had a level of civil disobedience in the community, so we decided to sit down and have a conversation and begin to talk about our difference and how we can begin to have open, honest, transparent dialogue and move forward together,” said Micheal Outlaw, Community Liaison, City of Erie.
It’s not just law enforcement or committee members that are on board with this effort.
“I believe any effort to strengthen police and community relations is an effort worth undertaking, so why not Erie,” said Gary Horton, President of NAACP Erie Chapter.
Although Horton agrees with the initiative, he also thinks if residents are making efforts, the city needs to also work for what the community wants.
“Community benefit agreements, like a community college, that provides scholarship opportunities and hiring local people, and some of the redevelopment and revitalization underway in our community today. It’s a two way street,” said Horton.
The SPCP will hold their first community event this Saturday. It will be a community clean up in the neighborhood of 7th and Wallace Streets.
During the clean up, committee members will knock on doors, along with having food for neighbors to enjoy.