Community seeks answers regarding police

Community seeks answers regarding police
February 25
00:00 2016
Above: Photo by Tevin Stinson-  City Council Member Dan Besse, police Lt. Delray Anthony, community activist Yusef Suggs-el, Lt. Marcus Sutton, community assistance liaison Chris Mack and Judge Denise Hartsfield participate in the Building a Safer Community Forum on Sunday, Feb. 21, at the Malloy Jordan East Winston Heritage Center.

By Tevin Stinson

The Chronicle

Sunday afternoon, Feb. 21, at the Building a Safer Community Forum, dozens of concerned citizens gathered at the Malloy Jordan East Winston Heritage Center to discuss issues they may have with law enforcement officers.

While a variety of city officials participated in the forum, including City Council members, judges, and community activists, many of the questions were directed at Winston-Salem Police Department Lt. Delray Anthony.

With the recent spike in the number deaths of civilians in police custody, many wanted to know what the protocol is for firing a weapon at a suspect.

Brenda Mayes of Winston-Salem said to her it seems as if when officers fire their weapons, they are shooting to kill instead of to commandeer the suspect.

“I understand that the officers have a job to do, but why can’t they aim below the waist or shoot the suspect in the foot?” she asked. “That’s why I am here today, because we are seeing this happen too often.”

Anthony mentioned every situation is different and officers must treat it as such; however, he did mention officers are trained to aim at the suspect’s midsection because they are more likely to stop the threat.

“If we aim low they still have the ability to get a round off or get close enough to stab someone,” he said. “So they teach us to shoot for the center.”

Anthony said that he has never had to fire his weapon and that it is always a last resort.

During the forum, Anthony also instructed the citizens on what to do when they are being pulled over. Anthony said if you don’t feel comfortable pulling to the side of the road, drive to a parking lot or well-lit area that they believe is safe. He also told those in attendance not to move around a lot or make any sudden movements.

“We don’t know what you have inside your car,” he said. “So if you are pulled over, just keep your hands on the steering wheel and do not reach for anything that is out of the officer’s line of vision.”

Other topics discussed during the forum included: what are the rights of a school resource officer, what are the rights when filming a police incident, why are citizens still dealing with these issues, and where do we go from here.

Community activist Yusef Suggs-el urged members of the community to learn their rights when it comes to dealing with law enforcement. Suggs-el said, “Many of the situations that we are faced with, we just don’t know what to do.

“We have to be empowered with knowing what our rights are,” said Suggs-el. “It’s up to you in the community; ignorance of the law is no excuse.”

“We must keep ourselves in a mode of wanting to learn, because if we don’t, we will never be able to educate the younger generation on how to handle these types of situations.”

The Building a Safer Community Forum was designed to allow members of the community an opportunity to have an open discussion with several city officials on a variety of topics.

Center director Andrea Walker said she decided to host the forum because she believes building a safer community begins with working together.

“We wanted to give the public a chance to voice their opinions on some of the issues they are facing,” said Walker. “We want to make sure we are all on the same page and working together.”

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