Lynchburg Police chief addresses community feedback and concerns

Published: Jun. 23, 2020 at 6:44 PM EDT
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LYNCHBURG, Va. (WDBJ) - “We’ve met with individuals, we’ve met with groups and we’re going to continue to hear their concerns because we need to know what those concerns are in order to best understand what action to take moving forward,” said Ryan Zuidema, Lynchburg Police chief.

Zuidema will head to city hall Tuesday evening.

There, he’ll make a presentation on feedback the department has gotten on how they function.

“We need relationships that further our mission,” said Zuidema. “We need to make sure we’re being held accountable by the community. We also need to make sure we’re being as transparent as we can.”

One of those areas of transparency is the department’s commitment to diversity.

According to police documents, the department is currently 85 percent white.

Zuidema says addressing the issue through recruiting is important.

“I think for the recruiting purposes, we want to make sure that we’re reaching out into our community, identifying those young men and women of color who can help us serve our community better so that our folks in the community who are black can look out and say ‘hey, that’s the one that looks like me,‘” said Zuidema.

Another area the department is looking to change is how they approach mental health situations.

They've applied for a grant with Horizon Behavioral Health to have a medical professional accompany officers on calls concerning a mental health crisis.

“We would have an officer paired with a mental health clinician and for the calls when those folks were working that involve mental health situations, that pair would respond to the scene and hopefully the mental health clinician could help assess that situation a little better based on their training and background experience and get that person or individual to the services they need,” said Zuidema.

A full list of the department’s report can be found here.

Copyright 2020 WDBJ. All rights reserved.

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