LAWTON, OK (KSWO) - Local Democrats asked the Lawton Police Chief what they can do to help with police and community relations in the city Monday night. Members of the Comanche County Democratic Party group filled the auditorium at the Great Plains Technology Center to listen to Chief James Smith and also Bishop John Dunaway, a community activist. The group's leaders say they recognized what has been happening around the nation, with the officer-involved shootings and protests. They wanted to take some action in preventing it from happening here.
Sharon D. Turner, a member of the Comanche County Democratic party had a suggestion that many in the group agreed with.
In step with Chief Smith's advice, she suggested that Lawton Police hold a forum or a town hall meeting that would allow the citizens to get to know the officers that serve them.
"Watching everything that's been going on in Dallas and in Baton Rouge and all these different places, my heart just goes to those people who live there," said Turner. "I don't want that to happen in Lawton."
Turner says the one thing she picked out during the news coverage of the recent officer-involved shootings is the fact that the citizens and the police don't talk to each other.
"Obviously when you look at some of the incidents that have happened there was lack of communication there, and it caused lives to be taken," said Turner.
Lawton Police Chief James Smith preached the importance of communication.
"That's why I think would help us further a relationship in our community is talking with each other," said Chief Smith. "Willing to reach across the aisle and learn from each other. Knowing that I may not look like you, we may not even like the same things, but I think we have the same goals in mind."
Bishop John Dunaway spoke to the crowd about how the change in attitude toward police starts in the home. He says parents telling their kids that officers are there to help, instead of harm can change the culture.
"That takes courage especially if maybe we come from a culture that says when you see officers, run or get away from them or shy away," said Dunaway. "We be need to go ahead and be courageous and go ahead, and engage them."
Turner says she walked away from Monday night's meeting feeling like the group, and the community moved forward.
"I think that you know uniting our community together, and knowing what the police wants and knowing what the community wants and building that relationship between the police and the community is the first step," said Turner.
The Comanche County Democratic Party leaders say this is the first step for them in address these issues.
They say they will continue to incorporate police-community relations in their meetings by inviting other members of the police force and even the Black Lives Matter movement to better understand what they can do in Lawton.
The discussion didn't end at the Democratic meeting on Monday. The chief and Dunaway also spoke with a small group of local business owners right after the meeting, about what they can do to help the department's community relations.