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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

“If you’re not a first responder family, then we need empathize with the feelings of those families as they kiss their loved ones and go to work each day, wondering if they’re going to come home.

“If we can just kind of put ourselves in the other person’s shoes hopefully we’ll have a better understanding of each other and that will lead to more respect for one another because with respect, we can diffuse a lot of the issues that are happening. And respect runs both ways, but it is imperative, and I’m speaking as someone in government, it’s imperative that every person who represents government – this includes our police officers and our firefighters and our first responders – treat every member of the community with the utmost respect, because the best way for us to get respect from the community is to exhibit respect,” he said.

Jenkins affirmed that such conversations had to continue as law enforcement, elected officials and county citizens all have a stake in the outcome. He reiterated that individuals could have an effect on community dialogue and policing, from local law enforcement to the neighborhoods themselves.

“Chief Brown has said if you’re looking for a good job sign up with a recruiter; take a look at joining the DPD. A lot of these problems can be addressed by the community being a part of the department and a part of the solution,” he said.

The judge admitted such an option was not possible for everyone, however, and cautioned that mandates from local government can only do so much.

“But all of us can play a role by trying to put ourselves in a perspective of another person, and trying to exhibit and understanding of the other person. Seeking to be heard is an understandable human emotion, but let’s seek to understand each other before we seek to be understood,” he urged.

“We still have a long way to go everywhere in this country,” he mentioned at one point, voicing that he “[feels] pain for the citizens and the first responders of Milwaukee, most recently,” in reference to the shooting of Sylville Smith by an officer and the resulting riots. He spoke about shootings in Louisiana and Indiana as well.

“This is something that goes on around our country where we have had these very real problems that to be addressed,” he said. Collective effort rather than polices will be what ultimately changes the tide of community policing and engagement, Jenkins proposed.

“We may be further along than in some other places but we all have a long way to go. We all can get better. None of us can do everything, but all of us, every man, woman, and child in Dallas County can do something, right? We can do something to get closer to that understanding.”