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Racine Task Force holds first public meeting to discuss police reform

NOW: Racine Task Force holds first public meeting to discuss police reform

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RACINE, Wis. (CBS 58) - Calls for police reform are happening across the country and in Racine, city leaders are listening.

They held their first in a series of public meetings about possible changes to police use of force.

It’s part of Mayor Cory Mason’s Police Reform Task Force focusing on police use of force.

“Really for this to work I have to hear from the community about what their concerns are and what their hopes are, so tonight is the first step towards that dialogue,” said Mayor Mason outside City Hall Monday, July 6.

The community is eager to weigh in. There were three meeting scheduled, and they filled up fast.

“The one tonight is completely full and we have two others that are scheduled already that are pretty close, what it tells me is that people are interested in this and that people are deeply interested in it,” said Mayor Mason.

About 100 people logged onto the meeting Monday and were broken up into smaller groups and asked a series of question.

“We have to get away from the mindset that every time you see an officer there is trouble is going to happen,” said one participant.

Much of the feedback centered around that point, making police less of a ”force” and more an extension of the community.

“So what we can do from a community relations standpoint? That’s what I would like to see, something worked on in that aspect, what can we do to break that barrier,” they said.

“It’s a lot easier to foster understanding when you have the opportunity to talk with one another outside of a critical situation,” said another participant.

The feedback given at these meetings will be passed on to the reform task force, which is on the clock. They have given themselves just 90 days to come up with a recommendation.

“It was really important to give us a specific window with an end date so that my office and the council will have a clear indication of what kind of policy recommendations we want to consider, and by when,” said Mayor Mason.

It’s all in an effort to use the movement happening across the country to make real change in the Racine community.

“Ideally we’re getting everybody on the same page and using this process to build on some trust that’s needed in the wake of the George Floyd murder,” said Mayor Mason.

“This is a conversation that needs to be had, and it’s a conversation that needs to be ongoing,” said a participant in the meeting.

Other recommendations we heard were more community policing, and de-escalation training.

There are two more community meetings, but they’re filling up fast.

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