Town Hall 1-30-17

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COLUMBIA - Residents will get to share experiences of racial profiling with City Manager Mike Matthes and Columbia Police Department Chief Ken Burton as a part of a town hall Monday. 

In addition, Matthes and Burton will be going over the results of the 2015 Attorney General's Traffic Stops Report, which showed that black drivers in Missouri were 69 percent more likely to get pulled over than white drivers.

The disparity is even larger when it comes to traffic stops made by CPD officers. For those stops, black drivers were 262 percent more likely to get pulled over than white drivers.

Rasha Abousalem, the director of humanitarian operations at Global First Responder, believes the disparity is caused by perceptions associated with different races.

 "We're not trained to fear whites," Abousalem said. "We are trained, through news and entertainment and history lessons, we're trained to fear blacks automatically."

Abousalem said in addition to increased accountability and cultural training, community involvement is important for police to build a better relationship with the community.

"The best thing the police can is build, or rebuild the bridge with the local community," Abousalem said.

In addition to the town hall, Matthes and Burton have met with local human rights groups like Empower Missouri and Race Matters, Friends.

Fourth Ward Councilman Ian Thomas said meetings like these are good for the police and the community.

"I believe that these meetings represent a good step in the right direction towards developing a better understanding and improving communication between police professionals and the public," Thomas said in an email to his constituents. "The meetings which have been held so far have led to CPD adopting an improved 'Search Consent Policy' and have generated other good ideas and insights."

The town hall will be at City Hall from 6 to 8 p.m.