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Local Black lives Matter organizers question new community-police alliance, say they were not consulted

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Monroe County faith leaders and law enforcement have formed the Monroe County Alliance for Transformation of Community and Police, with the intention of improving relations between police and the community, but some Black Lives Matter protest organizers are questioning whether the alliance will make a difference.

Transforming traditional law enforcement to community policing is the mission of The Monroe County Alliance for Transformation of Community and Police(MCATCP), which was formed in response to the death of George Floyd by police in Minnesota.

Black Lives Matter rally organizers, also moved by Floyd’s death, are hoping the alliance is different from other initiatives recently taken.

“How is this any different from what we’ve heard RPD has claimed to have shifted to over the years and called community policing before? How is this any different, I think we are saying that we don’t want community policing,” said Reenah Golden, Founder of Avenue Blackbox Theatre, and a Black Lives Matter organizer.

The alliance is made of clergy leaders and all law enforcement agencies in Monroe County, with the goal of improving community relations between police and residents through town halls, community events, partnerships, and a shift towards community policing.

“We are talking about restructuring policy departments to reflect a community policing model that changes the entire landscape of public safety, trust and community relationships,” said Rev. Marlowe Washington, with the Seneca United Methodist Church.

“We can make ourselves better with accountability, but until we get to know that young man, and he gets to know one of my police officers, and we compound that and compound and compound, that’s where we’re going to be in two years, that’s measurable of how many hearts we already changed,” said Monroe County Sheriff Todd Baxter.

Denise Lippa, who organized a rally in support of  Black Lives Matter, thinks it’s a good first step to understanding.

“It’s one part of a link of many things that have to be addressed, I don’t know if it’s going to make police treat people differently,” said Denise Lippa, organizer, Bend the Arc for Justice.

In a Statement Rochester Black Lives Matter Organizers said in response to the alliance;

Black Lives Matter community organizers in Rochester find it appalling that Monroe County faith leaders and law enforcement have taken another step towards division and authoritarianism. The police and faith leaders have failed miserably at an attempt to represent unity in our community. They excluded all other community organizations from this collaboration under the guise of unity. The have totally bamboozled Rochester residents. The formation of MCATCP (Monroe County Alliance for Transformation of Community and Police) without consulting any of the local Black Lives Matter community organizers is a slap in the face to the organizers. It is a slap in the face to the thousands of hardworking Rochester residents who have come together at MLK park for four consecutive weekends to denounce racism and police brutality...We hope that MCATCP will do the right thing and get in touch with community organizers immediately.”

The alliance plans to invite community youth groups, police unions and elected officials to attend meetings, their short term goals will be evaluated in three months.

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