The Superior Police Department is working to bridge divides with groups that often feel uncomfortable working with law enforcement.
It’s not a new idea, but one police chief Nicholas Alexander asked the Mayor’s Commission on Communities of Color if he should create again at its Monday, Jan. 11, meeting. The officer would work with the city's LGBTQ residents and people of color.
“The department did have an LGBTQ liaison officer in the past,” Alexander said.
He estimated the position hasn’t been used in a decade. The position would not require the department to hire a new officer, but would be a duty assigned to someone who is already a Superior police officer. There would be no extra cost to the city to create the position.
Alexander said he got the idea to restore the role after working with two sisters of color who expressed concern about reaching out to law enforcement.
The officer would be more involved with the communities and provide a familiar face where they could turn when issues arise that don’t require an immediate response from law enforcement, Alexander said.
“A position like this would reduce the barriers when interacting with our department,” Alexander said.
“That’s a great idea,” said commissioner Natasha Lancour. “It assures a lot less fear in the community.”
Lancour said sometimes issues that come up in the Black community don’t require an emergency response, and the liaison officer could be trained to have experience with people of different backgrounds.
Commission chair Deanna Reder suggested the officer could attend their meetings, as well.
Commissioner Jenny Van Sickle said she's glad the conversation is happening, but her only concern would be that other officers wouldn’t be as familiar with the issues those communities face.
One way to manage that is to have the liaison officer train other staff, Alexander said.
“That is something we would have to manage internally,” Alexander said.
When Alexander drafts the proposal, he would send it to commissioners to get their approval before assigning an officer to the position.