MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Va. (WDBJ7) A Montgomery County group wants to get people talking about race and they say their goal is to promote equality. They plan to do this through an event happening Saturday from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm.
While there are a handful of different topics discussed at these meetings, the primary discussion Saturday will be law enforcement.
The first meeting was actually six years ago and they're taking what they learned in 2012 and using the information for Saturday.
Wornie Reed is a member of the Dialogue on Race Steering Committee Member as well as a Sociology Professor at Virginia Tech, and the Director of Race and Social Policy Research Center at Virginia Tech.
He explained, “There was a feeling on the part of African Americans that racial profiling was going on in the county and they also felt that the police personnel did not reflect the racial make-up of the county.”
The Blacksburg Police Chief, Christiansburg Police Chief, and County Sheriff are involved in these talks. So they agreed to work on alleviating the concerns.
“What they did is allocate funding that they had from forfeiture that they had been doing to provide two people to go to the academy, the police academy,” Reed said.
He also said the county is also providing tuition free education to New River Community College for people looking to join the force.
The profiling issue was also being worked on, although neither chief or the Sheriff believe that's happening.
“In Maryland and in North Carolina all police departments have to report on all police stops. We don't in Virginia,” Reed said. “So the police chiefs said, 'Well we'll do that even though we don't believe we're doing racial profiling, but if we are then we know we have to do something about it and if we aren't then we demonstrate that we're not.'”
That data has been collected for two years and shows citations and ticket ratios are the same during the day and night. Reed said that would support no profiling, but the data is being further analyzed.
He said the most recent data analysis will be presented tomorrow at the meeting at Christiansburg Middle School.
He's also asking people to give their own ideas to solve issues.
“First question is what can they commit to do to get more African Americans in this pipeline headed toward being police officers,” he explained. “Number two, what can they do for our third issue, which is a new issue in the last year or two, which is improving police community relations.”
To find out more about the Dialogue on Race, click here.