Waterloo pastor aims to unite police with community - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Waterloo pastor aims to unite police with community

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(KWWL) -

A Waterloo pastor says police and the community are disconnected and he wants to bring them closer together.

New faces at Sunday worship, but familiar ones.

Pastor Whitfield of Mount Carmel Church invited Waterloo police officers to pray with the people of Waterloo.

"People of the community are afraid of law enforcement," said Whitfield. "I mean when you look at all that has taken place on the news, with police officers, and African Americans in the community, I think people are afraid of law enforcement when really in all actuality police are here to protect and to serve." 

Police Chief Dan Trelka also making an appearance.

All to say we are here to serve you.

"If something bad does happen at least we have that established communication so we can keep the dialogue going," said Trelka. "We haven't had situations of unrest in our community, broad major unrest."

Chief Trelka says communication is the most important. Building that relationship with the community so they can feel comfortable going to police.

Pastor Whitfield says it starts with police making more of a commitment to the community, coming into the neighborhoods when the badge is off.

Like the moment captured by a Waterloo mom of a police officer playing catch with her child. 

"So we need to see more of that, and I think if we see more of that in the neighborhood, then that fear will kind of diminish," said Whitfield.

"What I'd say to the people who have this fear of the police officers who are serving them, get to know us," said Trelka.

Both agree moving the community forward is a joint effort.

"Instead of seeing a young man or a young woman with handcuffs put on their wrist, I want them to see police officers, and young boys, and young girls hand-in-hand in solidarity," said Whitfield. "That's what real unity looks like."

Chief Trelka says communication in Waterloo is good but can always be improved. He says a program police already have includes study circles, where police and students come together to talk about problems

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