Police, officials commit to making change in Greensboro at forum

GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Policing was the topic of yet another community forum in Greensboro Wednesday night. New Jerusalem Cathedral on Sharpe Road in Greensboro hosted its second "New Ideas Forum" aimed at finding solutions to racial bias and social injustice.

"From these ideas can come some substantive type of action that we can start in the community to create change," said Michael Kearney, a Greensboro resident.

Hot topics like officer implicit bias training took center stage.

"Police officers and citizens have to understand that you can't tell the difference between a good guy and a bad guy by simply looking at them," said Capt. S.F. Barnes, with the Greensboro Police Department. Barnes and other officers detailed the bias training the department uses and how many hours officers are required to complete.

The people also put North Carolina's new law over police body camera video and it's author, Guilford County Representative John Faircloth, on the spot.

"If you are the person whose image is on the camera you have a right to see that image," Faircloth said. He also said that the head law enforcement officer over a municipality has the right to refuse a request if the official feels it is necessary. "But the final decision is made by the judge, a neutral party."

That answer wasn't sufficient for everyone.

"What we're talking about is trust. At the end of the day when you allow the chief or the sheriff -- who many people in my community do not trust -- in order to make the decision of whether that video should be shown to the person on it or not, that becomes an issue," said Guilford County Commissioner Ray Trapp.

The struggle to recruit new officers also got attention.

"We want a police department that is representative of our community, we can't do it without your help," Barnes said. Barnes and other officers encouraged people to come out and apply for jobs at Greensboro Police Department even if they have a small hesitation.

Dr. Love Crossling, with the Greensboro Human Relations Commission, said the community needs to stop sending a negative image of police to young people.

"Affirm the work of those who are good officers so that young people who have aspirations are not shamed out of becoming officers," Crossling said.

For Kearney, hearing officers outright ask for the trust of the people makes him believe progress is possible in Greensboro.

"Just to have faces in the community that are showing their concern from the law enforcement side and expressing the need for people to trust them," Kearney said.