Area police chiefs, community leaders and public meet for town hall on reform

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BRIGHTON, N.Y. (WROC) — “The best thing for us to do get to know each other, is to sit down and to talk,” says Reverend Patrina Freeman, also a member of the Irondequoit Town Board.

She took to the podium at the Monroe County Chiefs of Police Association Town Hall Wednesday at Temple B’rith Kodesh, speaking first as a concerned mother. Her hope is that the community and law enforcement can create an environment of understanding going forward on things like race relations.

“[We’re here] to share our hopes, our fears and our concerns together,” said Freeman.

And that’s exactly what happened: law enforcement, community members and activists broke bread to find common ground. 

“It’s a two-way street, right? It’s not just police-community relations, it’s also community-police relations,” says Monroe County Sheriff Todd Baxter. He says this is about building trust, adding you never know what can come out of these town halls. “Maybe legislation changes, or something like that,” says Baxter.

Brighton Police Chief David Catholdi says forums like these are a part of the Governor’s plans to help “reimagine policing”.

“So we’re still trying to wrap our minds around what ‘reimagine policing’ looks like. And what better way to do that than talking directly to the people who live in the community,” says Chief Catholdi.

Freeman says that might involve things like more social workers on calls, community policing, and giving law enforcement more tools to perform their duties. She says locally “reform”, is a better term than “defund.”

“What we want is policing that’s more reflective of our community,” says Freeman.

Chief Caholdi says more of these town halls are scheduled for East Rochester, Hamlin, and Fairport in the days ahead.

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