EFFINGHAM, SC (WBTW) – Hundreds of people filled the pews and balcony of Savannah Grove Baptist Church Monday night to take part in a forum with community leaders on race.
The meeting was the first of what organizers hope will be many on the path toward improving police and community relations throughout Florence County.
Dwayne Myers said he wanted to make sure he came to speak up for members of the younger generation.
“The police have a lot of power,” Myers said. “I think it’s vital that their training be top of the line. I think that more should be required of them than anyone.”
Myers and several hundred others listened as leaders from law enforcement–from city police to the State Law Enforcement Division–as well as education and local government spelled out ways they are trying to improve race relations in the Pee Dee.
Florence Police Chief Allen Heidler was encourage by both the turnout and the discussion.
“What we’re trying to do is build trust in the community,” explained Heidler. “This is certainly the best way to do that, through dialogue.”
Myers says he hopes that dialogue continues into the future, for his children’s sake.
“I don’t want them to be afraid of the police,” he said. “I don’t want to see anyone else get killed.”
Church leaders told News 13 they hope to continue this dialogue with more meetings in the next few weeks. Most feel the discussion was a very productive one.