Tuesday, Nov 21, 2017
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Bonds being built between the community and the Toledo Police Department

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Police Chief George Kral also emphasizes training and respect among his police force.

The Blade/Dave Zapotosky
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Several cities around the country have been forced to deal with the aftermath of a deadly confrontation between a police officer and unarmed resident. The incidents have tarnished the cities’ images, created distrust of police, and decimated families.

Toledo has been able to avoid a similar situation. Luck has played a role. But Police Chief George Kral also emphasizes training and respect among his police force. 

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The police department has partnered with several community groups to spell out a code of conduct, not only for officers but also residents who are stopped by the police. It is a great example of a community and police department working together to improve trust and communication.

Baldemar Velasquez, the president of the Farm Labor Organizing Committee, has led a campaign for two years to create a contract between police and the community’s young people.

His efforts led to the recent signing of a code of conduct for police at FLOC headquarters. Chief Kral and Toledo Mayor Paula Hicks-Hudson attended the ceremony, along with the Toledo chapter of the NAACP, the Toledo Community Coalition, Latins United, and FLOC Homies Union.

Community members pledged during investigations to behave respectfully, keep their hands in plain sight, and to refrain from excessive movement that cannot be monitored by officers.

Police pledged to remain calm, to use de-escalation techniques (which has already been a point of focus for Chief Kral), to not use force against those handcuffed, and to not use force against people who confront them verbally.

Included in the four-page document is the right of citizens to request an officer’s name and badge number and to record a stop on a cell phone. In return, citizens are expected to help identify criminal behavior and to assist in keeping their community safe.

Promises and contracts could easily go out the window during an adrenaline-fueled confrontation between police and a resident. But the Toledo Police Department and local leaders are working on improving communication and are showing mutual respect for each other. That will only make Toledo stronger. 

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