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Faith leaders, police hope to be 'proactive' in improving relations

Ryan Delaney
Pastor Daren Jaimi of the People's AME Zion Church with other clergy members.

Members of the Syracuse faith community and the city’s police department want to be “proactive” in improving the relationship between the community and police department.

African-African faith leaders will hold a series of monthly community meetings at different churches in the city beginning next month with the goal of facilitating a dialog between the police department and community members.

"We do acknowledge that problems do exist, and we’re concerned, but we also feel we’re doing our part, as this is an entrée towards bringing solutions within our own community," said Pastor Daren Jaime of the People's AME Zion Church.

The clergy say they hope to get a better understanding of law enforcement practices, the department’s policies and knowledge of the law.

The aftermath of a white police officer's killing of an unarmed black man in Furguson, Missouri over the summer was part of the motivation for the talks, they said.

"It’s important to form and build relationships before and outside a moment of crisis," said police chief Frank Fowler.

"We have our own issues here," he added. "We want to do better."

Engaging in the dialog is a "proactive step," Mayor Stephanie Miner said.

Jaimi admits they won’t be able to reach everyone with the meetings, but says hopefully the conversations within the churches will spread to the streets.

"One can put a thousand and two can put a whole lot to flight. So we recognize that just by having the opportunity to have an open forum, to talk to community, whoever shows up, they’ll be able to pass the message on," Jaime said. "And word of mouth really makes a difference."

Here are the dates for the meetings with exact times to be announced later:

  • Nov. 13: Greater Evangelical Church of God In Christ, S. Salina St.
  • Dec. 11: Belle Grove Missionary Baptist Church, Dr. Martin Luther King West.
  • Jan. 7: Bethany Baptist Church, Beattie St.
  • Feb. 12: The Living Water Church of God In Christ, Huron St.