Letter to the Editor

Dear Editor,

Lisa Wheeler-Brown was one of the people handpicked for the ad hoc committee held at the police station Tues., Dec. 9

While the topic of racial profiling is a sensitive subject, I appreciate the open and honest dialogue that we were able to have Tuesday night. I know how hurtful and angering it can be to be profiled and we must work together to end it. It’s an honor to serve with the group that met on Tuesday to face this issue head-on.

This meeting was the beginning of having a conversation citywide and working together with our police department in order to strengthen our entire community.

Profiling isn’t just profiling someone’s race; it goes deeper than that. It’s profiling people’s characteristics, ethnicity, age, national origin, etc. We were given data that shows in 2014, there were 850 arrests with force and only four were reported as “excessive.”

I was perplexed, but now I better understand. We are lacking communication and education within the community, and we can do better. Did you know that if you were stopped and you felt as if the officer was profiling you that you could call the Department of Professional Standard at 727-893-7596 to report any instance?

In addition, to report a crime anonymously you can text “SPPD” and your tip to 847-411 (TIP-411). These are folks on our side and we must do our part as citizens to report incidents.

Tuesday night was a beginning of open dialog that will ensure change. The Chief and attendees promised that. Our police department wants to serve and protect us just as much as we do not want there to be any profiling. We as a community have to be willing to accept training/ change as well as the officers and understand we are a team. How do you act when the police stop you?

Remember you can talk yourself into a ticket! Be respectful, know your rights and use the phone lines mentioned above!

I commend the attendees on the panel, Chief Holloway and the PBA for having the event to address racial profiling and for agreeing to have a community forum on January 27. I am looking forward to ending racial profiling.

Let’s grow as community, together!

Sincerely,

Lisa Wheeler-Brown

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