RICHMOND, Va. -- The heads of four area law enforcement agencies told the public they are working very hard to make sure what is happening in Ferguson, Missouri does not happen here, at a forum hosted by the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
“I don't think that would happen here in the city and the region,” Richmond’s new Police Chief, Alfred Durham, said.
The Chiefs of Police from Henrico, Richmond and Chesterfield, and the Sheriff of Hanover County, talked about how they all work hard to maintain relationships between the community and law enforcement.
“It's not two different things. We are one. This is our home,” Chesterfield Police Chief Thierry Dupuis, said.
Hanover County Sheriff David Hines highlighted the U.S. Department of Justice’s recent report on Ferguson that uncovered widespread racial bias in the city’s government.
“That was a culture that caused Ferguson to occur,” Hines said.
Henrico Police Chief Doug Middleton said his department is working to make sure that does not happen here through fair and impartial training.
“What that training focuses on doing is helping officers identify what those implicit biases are, recognizing that even well intentioned people have them, and then developing the skill to put them aside,” Middleton said.
Across town in Henrico’s east end, televisions in Carleton Crossing’s barber shop are tuned into news programs covering the unrest in Ferguson. Crossing said it’s hard for customers to escape what’s going on.
“They're angry about what's going on,” Crossing said about his customers.
But, he said the frayed relationships between law enforcement and the community in Ferguson doesn’t apply here.
“They tend to talk to you more so than, say, pull a gun on you fast,” Crossing said.
Crossing said training will continue to keep relationships good, but efforts made by members of the community are equally important.
“The people have to not hate the police as much, or be more aggressive toward the police, the police are here to help,” Crossing said.
In response to a citizen’s question at the forum about if the numbers uncovered by the DOJ in Ferguson might be similar in our region, Chief Durham said he will be studying that very issue.