Golden residents share perceptions of the city’s police, ideas for change at listening session

‘It starts with listening’

Paul Albani-Burgio
palbaniburgio@coloradocommunitymedia.com
Posted 11/3/20

Ty Scrable left North Dakota because of negative incidents involving police. However, Scrable has had a different experience in Golden. “I do have to say my few interactions with GPD have been …

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Golden residents share perceptions of the city’s police, ideas for change at listening session

‘It starts with listening’

Posted

Ty Scrable left North Dakota because of negative incidents involving police. However, Scrable has had a different experience in Golden.

“I do have to say my few interactions with GPD have been good,” said Scrable. “But I know we can all do better and show others how to do better as well.”

As a black man living in Golden, Scrable said any contact with police comes with a feeling of uncertainty about the racial attitudes of the officer. But that’s something requiring officers to undergo mandatory bias training could help with, he said.

“Being one of the few black people in Golden, I can’t necessarily fault somebody when they’ve never been around black people and they see something on the news where it’s scary,” said Scrable. “But I want to have the Golden Police aware of that so when they show up to a scene and see me there that’s conscious in their mind and the training has been there to unlearn the things they saw on the TV so they look at me as a person and a citizen.”

That suggestion that police undergo training and take other steps to reduce their biases was repeated often during a community listening session with Golden Police held on Oct. 29. The event, which was held virtually, was designed to give residents an opportunity to share experiences, thoughts and ideas related to policing in Golden.

City Manager Jason Slowinski said the event was intended to be focused on listening, rather than responding, from the perspective of the city.

Among those who speak during the hourlong session was Golden Police Chief Bill Kilpatrick, who said his heart continues to feel “torn apart by the senseless killing of George Floyd.”

“I know that there are members of our community who don’t see the police in a positive light, who are afraid of the police and do not trust the police to keep themselves, their family and their loved ones safe and to be honest that hurts my heart too,” he said. “The question really becomes what do we do about this. I don’t think there are any answers and I don’t have all the answers but what I do know based on what people way smarter than me have said is it starts with listening.

During the meeting, residents made suggestions ranging from identifying one police offer to serve as an ambassador to minorities who live in and interact with police in Golden to having the city put pressure on the Jeffco Sheriff’s Office to remove school resource officers from school.

Others focused on the need for the police department to do more to share information about its use of force policies and how statistics are kept about police stops and interactions. However, many of those who asked for improvement also praised the police department and particularly Kilpatrick’s willingness to engage in dialogue in order to make improvements.

However, at least one commenter questioned such a listening session could be an effective vehicle for change.

“We need to realize we are talking to the choir here,” read a comment shared anonymously on Facebook Live during the event and shared by Golden Public Information Officer Karlyn Tilley. “There are many people in Golden who are resentful of any conversation like this. We need to realize this.”

Slowinski concluded the conversation by saying it was the start of a broader city discussion about not only policing but racism in Golden more broadly. Additional community conversations would also follow, he said.

“This is not the end of the conversation,” Slowinski said. “This is really the start of the conversation.”

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