Hoping to prevent Ferguson or Dallas here, Hillsborough will hold community-police workshops
TAMPA -- Amid a national outcry against police shootings of black men and the targeted killings of police officers in cities like Dallas, Hillsborough County wants to take steps to prevent a similar incident here.
At the urging of Commissioner Les Miller, the county’s lone black commissioner who is also the father of a police officer, Hillsborough County will hold workshops for the community and law enforcement to better understand each other.
Commissioners voted 7-0 Wednesday to approve the workshops, which will cost $30,000 over next year.
Miller said the cost was a “a drop in the bucket for what they’re going to be doing to prevent us from having some of the issues we’re having across the country.”
During the next 12 months, Hillsborough will hold seven workshops -- four for adults, two for youths, and a leadership retreat. Residents will have the opportunity to hear from police what it’s like to wear a uniform and participate in ride alongs. In turn, police will hear presentations like “Is racism real or imagined?” and will collaborate with residents on recommendations to promote mutual respect and create good relations.
The program, called Community-Law Enforcement Workshops, or CLEW, started in Florida in the 1980s.
The Tampa Bay region has experienced racial tensions in the past for police involved shootings of black individuals, most notably in St. Petersburg in 1996 and Tampa in 1967. Miller hoped that by holding the workshops Hillsborough County could avoid reliving those days and the turmoil seen Milwaukee and Ferguson and Dallas and Baton Rouge.
“We are fortunate not to have had that incident in Hillsborough County,” Miller said. “That’s not to say it will not happen.”