GENEVA, Ala. (WDHN) — Residents in Geneva are calling for a change in the relationship between the community and the police department.
The police department says their door is always open to air out the community’s problems, but members of that same community say that it doesn’t feel that way, and they feel they are being looked down upon.
Around 40 residents gathered in Geneva to air out their issues with the city and the City of Geneva Police Department.
Some residents accused officers of wrongfully arresting their family members, not being a reliable resource to talk to when they are in need, and feeling like they are being looked down upon whenever an issue arises in their neighborhood.
“Some felt that they were being targeted, singled out, and racially profiled,” City of Geneva Councilman for District 1, Rufus Lee, said.
Others found a problem in the way officers communicate with them and feel there isn’t an equal sense of respect between citizens in the community and the police department.
In regards to communication, the police officers say that the department door is always open for people to come and express their problems, even when they have a complaint having to do with an officer on the force.
“If I get a complaint on an officer, I check on it immediately,” Geneva Police Chief Pepper Mock said. “Find out if I need to do something further than that, and this happens. Sometimes I find out that there is nothing to that complaint. A lot of the time, that’s the case, but sometimes there may be an issue, whether it be a training issue or an actual problem.”
Residents who attended the public hearing at the Will Jenkins Center did not walk out satisfied as they feel like their voices were not heard and cannot be heard.
“I don’t think the citizens got the answers they wanted tonight (on Thursday night),” Geneva County NAACP President, James Ruttlen said. “They want change, but from what I saw tonight it’s going to be a minute.”
Ruttlen says at the end of the day if there is going to be any progress made in Geneva, the two sides need to work together.
“If the police department and the citizens work together, this will be resolved easily,” Ruttlen said. “They have to have more respect for the citizens and the citizens have to have more respect for the police officers.”