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Jenkins joins national discussion on community dialogue, policing

MIKE McGEE | 9/9/2016, 8:08 p.m.
Dallas County Commissioners Court Judge Clay Jenkins joined other elected officials from around the U.S. for the National Association of ...
Jenkins joins national discussion on community dialogue, policing Judge Clay Jenkins

The Dallas Examiner

Dallas County Commissioners Court Judge Clay Jenkins joined other elected officials from around the U.S. for the National Association of County Officials Conference and Exposition held in July in Long Beach, California. During the event, participants explored areas of improvement or patterns of need related to their respective home districts.

“The NACo conferences are more of a discussion of best practices and ideas. They’ll have a platform where they’re like, ‘A good county jail looks like this, or a good sheriffs office looks like that.’ It’ll be more, ‘This is working well in Cook County, Illinois. This is working well in Los Angeles County, California,’ or wherever, and these are models we can look at,” Jenkins noted.

One aspect of the conference underscored the importance for community dialogue and community policing – subjects he and other members of the DCCC have been focused on locally for years, the judge said.

“Part of the model for community policing, nationally, is here in Dallas,” Jenkins commented as he considered the progress the county has made versus other regions of the country. The judge added that this NACo event was especially timely in light of the gun violence connected to law enforcement that has occurred in the city and across the country – shootings committed by officers as well as shootings directed at them.

“I reached out to the executive director of NACo and suggested that this be a part of the discussion after the shootings that occurred in Dallas, and this has been an issue that I’ve worked on, since before the shooting,” he said.

Jenkins spoke on how he and Dallas Police Deputy Chief Malik Aziz visited the White House in July 2015 for President Barack Obama’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing, where they brought to the table recommendations related to community policing – recommendations the judge further underscored during the Long Beach conference.

Jenkins admitted recent events here and around the nation have since brought an even greater emphasis to community policing.

“This shooting having happened in Dallas, the NACo director reached out to me to inquire about that, and I had suggested to them that there were things that could be done and also suggested to the White House – because some White House officials were going to be at the conference – that there might be some things to do to talk about that,” he confirmed.

“I’m sure that it was on the top of their mind, too, but it became certainly more of a pointed emphasis of this meeting than it had been in past meetings,” he added. Suggestions and frameworks for solutions were fostered at various moments of the conference.

“There were a lot of breakout sessions where people discussed community policing and how to respond to attacks either in public buildings or [at] public events,” the judge remarked. “I said the same thing there that I’ve said here, which is it gets down to an issue of respect, so if you’re White that means understanding our Black brothers and sisters are having different conversations that are needed in their families with their children about interaction with the police than the White family is having, and that’s something needs to not be necessary. We need to change that dynamic, need to understand that, empathize with that, feel some of the that pain.” Jenkins also reflected upon an opposite viewpoint.