Possible racial tensions between police and residents heats Community Candidate Forum up

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DOTHAN, Ala. (WDHN) — On Thursday night, The Men’s Civic Club and the Wiregrass PanHellenic Council held a community candidate forum for mayoral and city commissioner candidates.

Road development, affordable housing, city funds and more were topics discussed. However, the hot topic was police relations between the community and if there’s racial tensions or not.

District four commissioner candidate Angela Godfrey, believes there’s no togetherness between the two.

“It’s not about the seat to me it’s about being able to understand the community, understand what’s going on, not just saying that the police are wrong but being able to bring about that unity, that unity so that we’ll know how to engage with each other,” said Godfrey.

She wasn’t the only one who felt this way, other candidates felt the same and voiced their concerns that it starts with the person then the system. District two commissioner candidate Phillipe Kirksey said it takes more than sensitivity trainings.

He explained how it starts with getting out in the community and talking to residents off duty. This is something he plans on doing, if elected.

“I believe they see the humanity past the uniform I think it’s key to those community relations and progress them and make them a better format,” Kirksey said.

As a policeman himself he believes this gives him an advantage.

“I been in law enforcement since I was 21 years old I’m 39 now but I’ve been black all my life I think I can understand both sides,” Kirksey said.

Overall, residents were impressed with how the forum went and wish all the candidates luck.

“I think that racial relations is an important issue that we all need to continue to dialogue on but I certainly wish them well on addressing those concerns,”
resident Eva Matthews said.

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