In April, Erie Police Chief Dan Spizarny and community members launched the Strengthening Police and Community Partnership. It’s a plan aimed at building better relationships between police and Erie residents.

At his weekly news conference, Thursday, Mayor Joe Schember revealed some of their findings.

“The first one is education, cultural awareness and sensitivity, generally,” Schember said. “We're not pointing the finger at any group. We're just saying generally in our community, we need more of that.”

That's one of just eight priorities the Schember administration wants to implement as soon as this year. They include the following:

  • Education/cultural awareness/sensitivity
  • Addressing racism/stereotypes
  • Police Dept. representative of community
  • Trust
  • Family structure/parental control
  • Human & material resources/police
  • Approachability
  • Us vs. Them

The city will work with the Multicultural Community Resource Center and other agencies to build break down barriers with the city's growing refugee population. Last month, Erie News Now showed you police work with those groups, using translators and interpreters to help during emergencies.

“We want to build that bridge so we can all be on the same page,” said Fatima Alimohamed, a member of the SPCP Council.

But developing a plan of action is key. From that meeting, the SPCP has organized a council to turn those eight priorities into reality.

“It's only going to help in so many different ways, when people feel trusted and they can trust the police and the police can trust in the people,” said Stephanie Montgomery, a member of the SPCP Council.

Some of those solutions include activities that engage Erie’s youth, such as the Police Athletic League (PAL); enhanced education between both parties; and assigning police to a neighborhood, so they can learn more about the residents and vice versa. That, Schember says, is a cornerstone of community policing.

“Members of (SPCP) Council are committed to attending these events and interacting with the officers, introducing them to residents, and trying to build those relationships,” he said.