Orlando pastor sees progress in police-community relations

Orlando saw protestors in the streets after George Floyd’s death, in 2020. In response to the city's protests Orlando’s mayor and police chief announced a community trust and equity initiative. Orlando bishop Kelvin Cobaris has been involved in the work. 

"I commend them for being very proactive in responding to the protests of George Floyd to see that there are a number of things that have been changed in the department as relates to policy," he said.

The task force led to changes in some of the local law enforcement policies. Orlando Police banned chokeholds and no-knock warrants. They put together "neighborhood patrol units," with a diverse team aiming to connect with as many people as possible. 

Police also hired mental health professionals to respond to people in crisis, in appropriate cases. They started a junior reserve law enforcement course at a local high school.

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After George Floyd's death, the City of Orlando also hired its first equity officer, whose job is to make sure city services are fair, equal and accessible to all. Cobaris said it was encouraging. 

"They don't try to assume they have all the answers. They want to hear from the community on things they can do so that we can work together to see less of what we saw in Memphis, Tennessee."

Despite local progress, Cobaris said the death of Tyre Nichols shows America has lots of work ahead to achieve social justice. 

"It is obvious by these actions that we have yet a long way to go because there's still those that feel they can use their badge and authority to abuse."