A group tasked with improving community relationships with Colorado Springs police is holding community listening sessions to gather input on policing. The Colorado Springs Law Enforcement Transparency and Accountability Commission (LETAC) is also reformatting its bimonthly meetings to allow for more discussion with the public.
Commission Chair JJ Frazier said the listening sessions will focus on four key topics: communication with the police department, racial bias, crisis response and use of force. She said the four initial topics were chosen after one-on-one interviews with each commission member.
LETAC is also holding two town halls, one on January 21 and the other February 13, to hear general thoughts on policing and public safety.
"Our community is why we're here in the first place," said Frazier. "They had concerns, they had issues, and these town halls are going to permit us to listen to them firsthand."
In addition to LETAC's work, the Colorado Springs Police Department launched a new website for residents to access police data. Community members can search use of force data to see trends in more than 2,000 incidents dating back to 2017.
Mayor John Suthers said in a statement the website is a tool to help improve transparency and relationships between the police department and the community.
Frazier said the data rollout was in place before the commission formed, but accessible data helps the commission with its mission, as well.
"They're trying to be transparent and this data hub will provide the information that people have been seeking," said Frazier.
She said she's hoping to learn more about the way traffic stops are handled in communities around the city by exploring the new data, in addition to use of force incidents.
Over the next few months, the police department plans to release information on officer involved shootings and staff demographics. The department is also working with a consulting group to analyze use of force data. The consulting group is set to report on their findings, including potential racial disparities and recommendations on solutions, in the fall.
Frazier said she is excited to start the new year with more chances for community participation in LETAC's work.
"We've been under a microscope, and people are still wanting to see what we're going to do," said Frazier. "Of course there are some that think we won't do anything. We know those comments exist out in our community. And we're gonna prove them wrong. We are here for a purpose."
How you can participate in a community listening session
The first listening session on communication takes place on January 19 from 6-8 p.m. Community members can sign up in advance by calling or emailing the commission. The first general town hall takes place on January 21 from 6-8 p.m.
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