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Sikeston DPS seeks to bridge gap between officers and community with DOJ program

“Strengthening Police & Community Partnerships” Program unanimously passes with city council
Updated: Jun. 8, 2020 at 11:04 PM CDT
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SIKESTON, Mo. (KFVS) - On the heels of the double homicide shooting, the unrest in the nation, and years of tension with the community and officers, Sikeston Department of Public Safety (DPS) is implementing a program to bring both groups together.

The Sikeston City Council unanimously voted to authorize a program Monday night that partners both the city’s police and the community.

This program, called “Strengthening Police & Community Partnerships”, is through the Department of Justice.

It was created to help identify problems and seek solutions.

“But if that’s the only activity that we do, then we are failing - we got to have more positive than negative interaction,” said Sikeston DPS Chief James McMillen.

He is talking about strengthening the bond between the police and the community.

“Often times we fall into a reactive mode, just answer the calls and dealing with those issues we have to deal with but sometimes if we can establish these communications, these relationships, we can prevent a lot of things,” said Chief McMillen.

Sikeston’s City Council members capped off months of planning by okaying a plan to use the Department of Justice’s plan to form an alliance of police and community members.

The purpose is to establish a relationship and lines of communication to help solve some of those problems and address complaints.

“We got to be willing to do our part...And that’s what I’m saying here - we will be willing to our part. I’m willing to take the criticism, but I want to try to really better the community, better our department, and make things safer for our officers, safer for the citizens and safer for the community in general,” said McMillen.

Laurie Mitchell lost her son last year to gun violence.

She wants to be a part of McMillen’s group so she can be a part of change.

“Our community needs it, especially our young black males,” she said.

A familiar face in the Heartland, David Robinson, was also at the meeting.

“We are about a community of love, of unity, and support...United we stand, divide we fall,” he said.

McMillen says there is an inherent level of distrust of officers from the community, but Mitchell says there’s a bigger picture here.

“It’s not called a snitch just because you go let the police know what happens. Communication. We have to communicate, we have to get these murders solved. We have to come together,” said Mitchell.

“As a police department, as a police chief, we have to be willing to make that step forward and say we are willing to rebuild relationships and make things better,” said McMillen.

Chief McMillen will contact the DOJ specialist to get the process going on starting the new community program.

More information about who can be involved in this program will be released at a later date.

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