Indiana law enforcement leaders defended their profession and the justice system at a forum on race and law enforcement held in Indianapolis Tuesday.
The forum was organized by several community organizations, including the Indiana Drug Enforcement Association and the Indianapolis Recorder.
It featured a panel of Hoosier law enforcement leaders, including Lake County Sheriff Oscar Martinez. He said connecting with the community is key.
“Not going to the community when it’s election time," Martinez said. "That’s not going to work; they’re not going to buy that. It’s being there all the time.”
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Indiana Fraternal Order of Police President Bill Owensby said “false narratives” about police, created by celebrities and social activists, are at the heart of the problem. He insisted the most important thing people can do in police encounters is simply comply.
“There’s this misnomer that the police profession is broken. It isn’t," Owensby said. "It’s a very proud profession … and we take pride in how we protect the citizens of our communities.”
Lake County Prosecutor Bernard Carter pointed to the roots of racism still pervasive in society.
“I think that’s the problem with policing today – many of these officers do not understand African Americans, particularly African American women,” Carter said.
The panel did not feature anyone from community-based organizations.
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