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LPD Chief James Smith speaks to students at Cameron

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LAWTON, Okla_Lawton Police Chief James Smith said bridging the gap between the police department and the community is vital to stopping crime. Chief Smith made those comments Monday to students and staff in Cameron University's Criminal Justice Department. He was invited as part of a year long speaker series involving law enforcement professionals.

Chief Smith let the crowd know how good communication between police and the community could go a long way to stopping crime. He said the hardest battle he's faced in his career is getting the community to trust law enforcement.

"We have got to talk to each other. There was a wall the police, they had this blue wall that it was us against them, not saying it's always been the case here, but nationally it's always been that stigma."

One way to combat that problem here is to have more events like Monday's prayer walk, making both groups a working unit.

"The police are part of the community, the community has got to be part of the police department also because we have got to have one goal and it is having a safe community."

One student at today's conference said bridging that gap is what prompted him to take an interest in criminal justice and agrees these days it takes more than just the badge to protect the people.

"With all the violence that we've got going on, senseless violence that's going on, it's the personal responsibility to make it stop, we have kids that can't even play freely anymore because of the foolishness or somebody running up in someone's house."

Chief Smith also told the students it's important that they stay up to date on technology. He said criminals are becoming more technology-savvy.

The department's speaker series will continue in January with a visit from Duncan Police Chief Danny Ford.

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