CAPE ELIZABETH — About 100 residents of Cape Elizabeth were present for a public discussion about policing and procedures in response to the death of George Floyd and protests across the United States.

Chief Paul Fenton, Town Manager Matthew Sturgis, Cumberland County District Attorney Jonathan Sahrbeck, and Thomas Memorial Library Director Rachel Davis hosted the meeting over Zoom on June 9.

Callers had questions for Fenton and Sturgis regarding the police department’s training, records, use of body cameras, and response to the country’s demonstrations and demands for change.

Fenton said that although emotions right now are high and there is much happening, change will happen.

“I can’t fix problems unless people tell me what they are,” he said.

Those in charge of the law need to step up at this time and hear what the public thinks in order to make changes, Sahrbeck said.

“Somebody like myself who’s in the criminal justice system, I need to listen,” he said. “I need to reflect and I need to take action along with other individuals to really make positive changes.”

At the beginning of the meeting, Fenton explained that officers go through implicit human bias training, bias-based policing, awareness of cultural diversity, policing of cultural diverse communities, verbal judo, certification as emergency medical technicians, and 90 percent of the department is trained in crisis intervention.

Crisis intervention training uses de-escalation techniques in a mental health crisis, Fenton explained.

“Training is ongoing here, and it’s a continuous process,” he said.

He told one caller, Heidi Graf, that the department would be reviewing the use-of-force policy.

“Although this incident didn’t involve a member of this department, it impacts this department,” Fenton said, referring to the incident in Minneapolis in late May when a police officer knelt on Floyd’s neck for nearly 9 minutes and killed him.

“Let’s use this anger to make some progress,” he said.

Audra Gore, a Cape Elizabeth resident, said that she felt that the discussion about policies and training didn’t answer the question of what the department will do to support anti-racism.

“What is it we could do as a community, what could you do, to lead us in expressing better that our town is 100 percent against racism?” she asked.

She said that she hopes the department and town uses community voices when creating policies.

“The thing that I’m enjoying about this evening is that I’m hearing our community,” she said. ” Racism is a community problem, and I believe our community is an untapped resource. I hope you will utilize us … Something you can do for us is to be a strong voice … When I drive through our town, I can barely see the Black Lives Matter.”

The police need to do better in order to gain the community’s trust, Fenton said. The police and the community are one entity.

“We’re broken on a bigger level,” he said. “We’re broken in terms of race, in terms of trust.”

Sturgis thanked everyone who participated in the meeting and said, “Our work tonight may be over, but our service is just beginning.”

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