N. TX summit focuses on building trust between communities, police

Ahead of Monday's Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday, people across the nation, including North Texas, are coming together talking about how to build trust again between communities and police after a long hot summer of discontent.

A community policing summit was held in Arlington Thursday, meant improve understanding between communities of color and law enforcement.

Arlington Police Chief Will Johnson was in attendance.

The 1991 beating of Rodney King by Los Angeles police caught on tape caused Johnson, a then-rookie police officer, to wrestle with police distrust.

"I struggled with how a use of force in California could impact my own personal reputation here in North Texas," said Johnson. "I didn't understand that."

Now that he has years more of experience and is chief, he fully understands.

"And I understand the need for us to have strong relationships before such an encounter happens," Johnson said.

Thursday's event followed several 2014 police encounters that drew national attention, including the police chokehold death of Eric Garner and the shooting deaths of 18-year-old Michael Brown in Missouri and 12-year-old Tamir Rice in Ohio.

Protests against police and police shootings have marked the nation since August, including in Dallas.

"Police officers are not occupying forces, right?" said Satinder Singh, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas. "They are members of the communities they come from, and ideally, that's the way it should be."

While cameras sometimes show the judgment calls that police officers must make in dynamic situations, cameras alone don't translate to trust.

"We have to earn the community's trust every day, and it's a trust that's fragile if you don't invest into it on a daily basis," said Johnson.

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