LOUISVILLE, Ky (WDRB) -- Nearly 50 people gathered at the Chestnut Street YMCA on Wednesday night to listen to former Seattle Police Chief Norm Stamper speak about community relations and police involvement.

“Police officers have a fundamental responsibility to protect and preserve human life," Stamper said. "It’s a top priority of every police officer in the country."

Stamper has written three books about crime, police/citizen encounters and what it takes to run one of the country’s largest police organizations.

Back in 1999, Seattle police fired tear gas on non-violent protesters outside the World Trade Organization. It was a decision that was under Stamper’s watch and one he said was the “worst mistake of his career.” He resigned from his position as chief and is using what he learned then to help heal relations in cities across the country now.

A large topic of discussion was police shootings. Louisville’s latest happening on Sunday on Fern Valley Road when 24-year old Corey Boykin Jr. was fatally shot by officers. LMPD said in a press conference earlier in the week the shooting was justified.

Stamper was not the only speaker at the forum. Two former LMPD officers, Richard Gibbs and Richard Pearson, also spoke in front of the crowd.  Their goal was to give perspective into what goes into everyday duties of officers and how quickly situations can escalate.

“This job is inherently dangerous," Gibbs said. "When you put that uniform on, danger begins. Even as a regular citizen, as you well know, danger begins."

Stamper said incidents of shootings by police are not on the increase. They are just documented more often because of cell phones and body cameras. He is calling for cities to create an impartial citizen review board to investigate police misconduct within a department.

“If a community feels powerless and behaves in powerless fashion, it’s not going to happen,” Stamper said, adding that police need to be part of a community, not apart from it.

Community activist Christopher 2X organized Wednesday’s forum and hopes to have similar ones at least once a year.

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