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Church and LPD hold seminar to promote safe encounters between community and Police

(Souce KSWO) (Souce KSWO)

LAWTON, OK (KSWO) -With so negative things between communities and law enforcement going on around the country...A local church is partnering with the Lawton Police Department to be sure nothing negative happens in our community.

The Lawton Police Department and Bethlehem Baptist Church are holding a seminar on October 3rd.

The goal is to inform the community of their rights and how to respond when they encounter law enforcement, whether that's being pulled over for a traffic stop or what to do when you're approached on the street by an officer.

Pastor Willie Smith says he's tired of seeing the community and law enforcement going against each other. That's why he wanted to hold this seminar.

"It saddens me because I think we forget the people that are being pulled over are sons, daughters, husbands and wives, but also the people that are pulling them over are sons and daughters and husbands and wives," said Smith. "We really come from the same community. The police are not different than us, they are not separated from us, they emerge from us and I think we forget that."

He says with tensions rising across the country, it's important to be proactive in making sure traffic stops in our community go as smoothly as possible.

"We think the key to any relationship is good communication," said Smith. "We want to get law enforcement and the community communicating, talking, getting both sides perspectives and I think we can better understand each other and better get along with each other."

Lawton Attorney Taylor Stein says people have strong feelings about being pulled over or approached by Police officers these days.
But he says you should never let your emotions get the best of you.

"This is really not the appropriate time to vent your feelings about stops, search and seizure and those issues are done in a better form," said Stein. "The policeman is, I don't want to say they're scared, but they're always cautious the number of weapons, number of shootings of policemen and that sort of thing."

Stein says events like the upcoming seminar provide the perfect setting to address your concerns and learn your rights. At the seminar, officers will answer questions about their policies, your rights and the laws everyone must abide by.

"Be very nice," said Stein. "Keep your hands where they can see them and obey their commands. Those commands can go as far as who you are, where you are. you have a duty to show some sort of identification, insurance, verification and maybe the title. You don't have a duty to allow them to search your car. You don't have to answer any pointed questions. You don't have to admit whether or not you have contraband on you or in the car, but you do have a duty to cooperate with the police officer."

"I believe the objective here is to keep a healthy, peaceful and safe environment and to do that we have to communicate with each other and got to get an understanding," said Stein.

If you would like to go to the seminar, it will be on October 3rd from 6 p.m. to 7:30 at the Bethlehem Baptist Church Family Center, located right next to the church off North west Arlington Avenue. It's free and open to everyone.

Copyright 2017 KSWO. All rights reserved.

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