Community Conversation event draws large crowd, wide range of co - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Community Conversation event draws large crowd, wide range of concerns

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Chief Conrad addresses the crowd at the Community Conversation event Tuesday. Chief Conrad addresses the crowd at the Community Conversation event Tuesday.
A large crowd turned out to voice concerns about a wide range of issues both local and national. A large crowd turned out to voice concerns about a wide range of issues both local and national.
One attendee held a sign expressing concerns over racial injustices both local and national. One attendee held a sign expressing concerns over racial injustices both local and national.
Mayor Fischer sat on the floor during the event to make space for people packing into the room. Mayor Fischer sat on the floor during the event to make space for people packing into the room.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- A wide range of topics were discussed Tuesday night during the city's Community Conversation event.

A large crowd came out to ask questions and express their views from Ferguson to problems with Louisville Metro Police. Almost every space was filled in a room at the Louisville Urban League.

"The soul of our nation has been stirred, by what's happened in Ferguson, what's happened with Eric Garner, what's happened in Cleveland, many other issues," Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer said.

The forum was moderated by Dr. Ricky Jones, with LMPD Chief Steve Conrad and other U of L Professors sitting on the panel.

"They set the stage where we can openly discuss, openly and bravely discuss difficult issues," Jones said about the forum. 

The focus started on a recent LMPD traffic stop study, showing black people were more likely to be searched during traffic stops in Louisville. Professor Deborah Keeling analyzed the data for that study, and explained the findings to the crowd.

The conversation shifted to cover more issues. U of L Professor Cedric Powell recommended changes for law enforcement agencies. 

"We need national training standards adopted and administered by all police academies, we need a hiring and procedural profiles that we have in the admission process to the police academy and we should have interviews that try to deal with cultural competency," Powell suggested. 

Chief Conrad took notes while the panelists spoke and responded to some of their points. 

"Unconscious is an absolute fact, and implicit bias. The way that I view the world as a 58-year-old white man who has had lots of advantages in life is different than anybody in this room probably and I realize that," Conrad said. "Through our training we need to make sure that our officers realize that." 

People in the crowd were able to ask questions. They asked panelists about creating a civilian review board, better data to track officers' actions, trust in the police.

Chief Conrad says he believes this forum was productive. 

"Anytime you can get in front of this many citizens and have an opportunity to listen to their concerns and for us to have an opportunity to try to explain things that we are trying to do to address problems in our community, this is absolutely what our community needs to be about," Conrad said. 

City officials say more forums like this will be scheduled for the future. 

"I think Louisville is one of those communities where we've always been out front and ahead of a situation," said Debra O'bannon, who attended the meeting."I'm glad we had this conversation so that if a situation in the future, that no one can say, we never even tried." 

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