Forum aims to build community trust

Do you trust your local police department? In Illinois, the head of the Carbondale Human Relations Commission says a series of missteps have caused the community to lose faith in local law enforcement.

From the Molly Young murder investigation to the death of Pravin Varughese, Carbondale Human Relations Commission Chair Jerrold Hennrich says the community stopped trusting its police force.

"There’s just a lot of mistrust," said Hennrich. "It’s not the fault of the current administration, but it’s a systemic issue that continues."

During his 15 months as Carbondale police chief, Jeff Grubbs says he has worked to change that narrative.

"This has and will always be the community’s police department," said Grubbs.

The problem with opening dialogue is that in the past it has been handcuffed to negative situations.

"We have to have this dialogue and setup and establish some communication as actual people," said Hennrich.  "The cops are people too. A lot of times, because of the nature of their job, they’re often demonized."

"We’re humans too," said Grubbs.  "We care about the community. We care about how we police the community because in the end we’re all in this together."

The Carbondale Human Relations Commission is working with the police department on a followup meeting this spring on the campus Southern Illinois University, but no date has been set.

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