Columbus mayor weighs in on police and community relations forum

Columbus mayor weighs in on police and community relations forum

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - Looking towards future discussions on race, police, and community relations in Columbus is what mayor Teresa Tomlinson has her sights set on. This comes after a forum last Friday that brought emotional and heated interactions.

Some had some pretty harsh words for city and state leaders during the Galvanize Columbus forum. On Wednesday WTVM caught up with Tomlinson to discuss  what changes, if any, can we expect to see following the community meeting.

Mayor Tomlinson says that emotional vetting is always important in community discussions, and the frustrations of many isn't falling on deaf ears, but community members and leaders agree there needs to be more talk about solutions and putting those into action.

Drawing out people from all walks of life within the Columbus community, Friday's forum with city officials and NAACP leaders aimed at reaching common ground and sharing thoughts.

While many say it was an important discussion, it was also a forum that got heated and maybe even off course, some say.

WTVM received mixed reviews following the forum, with people saying things like, "Maybe next time this will be better. I think it could have been [better,]" and, "They weren't really listening to what was going on. People were just saying things but the listening wasn't there, a lot of the responses seemed kind of canned."

"I would say one disappointment I have with it is there were a lot of people of good will there, Hispanics, African-Americans, of course white individuals, even Asian individuals, and yet I think the conversation did turn to be a lot more emotional than maybe we expected. There was more inflammatory language than perhaps we expected," said Tomlinson.

Mayor Tomlinson and others hope to see more practical discussions in the future, tackling protocols, training, and ways the Columbus Police Department can continue to grow, with clear heads, respectful words and desire to keep things moving forward.

"We have to get beyond that to find the solutions or otherwise it's just accusations, and emotional, sometimes very inflammatory language," said Tomlinson.

Some complained at the forum about specific situations where people felt Columbus police were unnecessarily aggressive or forceful. The mayor's office looked into those, and Tomlinson says there weren't official complaints filed for situations mentioned at the forum. If you have an issue with an officer you must put in a formal complaint.

Out of 171,000 calls for police assistance in 2015, there were only 66 complaints filed in Columbus.

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