EVANSVILLE, Ind. — City leaders and members of the police department in Evansville met with leaders of the local chapter of the NAACP Tuesday afternoon.
Both sides left the meeting saying the discussions went well. Evansville NAACP chapter President Gerald Arnold said the meeting will be the first in a series of discussions they plan to have with city leaders about possible changes that can be made to improve relations between local police and the black community.
“I’m appreciative that the mayor took time out of his schedule; he thought this was important enough for us to come together,” Arnold said. “We’re all willing to work together in partnership to kind of ensure those things don’t happen here.”
Things, such as the deaths of George Floyd and Rayshard Brooks, both of whom were killed because of what many believe were instances of excessive force by officers in Minneapolis and Atlanta.
Both Arnold and Evansville Police Chief Billy Bolin agree the city of Evansville has already been doing a good job of working with the black community.
Arnold said he received a list of topics from the national office of the NAACP that the organization feels need to be addressed between African-Americans and municipal leaders across the US. Arnold said there are many items on that list that don’t need to be addressed in Evansville, but there are some that do.
Chief Bolin was given a copy of the list and one of the items he said he is unwilling to budge on is the topic of ending qualified immunity for police officers.
“We don’t our officers out here worried that any little thing that they could do that maybe a judge or somebody disagrees with is going to open their family up to civil liability,” Bolin said. “Granted, if we have a police officer who is totally out of control, Minneapolis for example, I can see where there should be something there for something like that.”
Bolin is confident and encouraged by the meeting with NAACP leader though saying there is already a lot of common ground to stand on.