The Noblesville Diversity Coalition members and Noblesville Police Dept. staff realize that being proactive is the best way to form relationships.
And though the death of George Floyd while in police custody in Minneapolis, Minn., in late May sparked protests around the world, NDC member Norman Williams said the organization had been actively involved in community outreach long before then.
“A lot of it has been more organic than, ‘Hey, we need to do this,’” said Williams, who’s been an NDC member for approximately 6 months. “There’s a need.”
The NDC and NPD recently began working together to strengthen partnerships and relationships in the community.
“One of the great things about this connection is, it hasn’t been, ‘We need to do this because this is happening,’” Williams said. “It’s people who want to do something and then decided what can I do to be proactive? It’s very proactive and not reactive.”
NPD Deputy Chief Shannon Trump said although the police department receives excellent community support, she realizes negative events can happen close to home.
“I’m not so naïve to think that something couldn’t happen here from a police perspective,” she said. “You can’t just let things ride. It’s important to take steps to build things, make things better, and we are always striving to be better and build that mission together.”
Although the partnership is relatively new, the COVID-19 pandemic has prevented the groups from meeting much.
“We had a city panel with the leaders of the diversity coalition and leaders from the city, like the chief of police and mayor,” Trump said. “We are moving forward with Zoom calls and collaborating on where we want to go in the future.”
Trump’s primary goals are building public trust and continuing to improve as a department.
“It’s important for us to be transparent, but you can say that and then you can actually mean it and show what you’re doing and how you do things and what you can do better as an agency,” she said. “We can always be better as a police department, and a lot of times it takes community involvement to realize the areas where we need to be better.”
Trump said the NPD wants to hear from the public about how it can better serve the community. She said the NPD plans to educate and engage community members.
“From a police perspective, as far as partnerships, we want to encourage community members, especially minority community members, to get involved in the police department and consider it as a profession,” Trump said.
Williams said the NDC is working to identify community members who may not normally attend NDC or NPD functions.
“We are reaching out to business owners and HOAs and reaching different parts of the community that don’t normally interact with each other and figure out who are these people,” he said. “A lot of it is just going to be dialogue and getting people from different parts of the community together to have these conversations. We are trying to attract a lot more people who don’t normally participate in this type of endeavor and bring in people who don’t attend rallies or who won’t reach out but do have ideas and opinions. We want as much input as we can get.
“It’s something for the whole community. It’s not just diversity, it’s a relationship with the community and law enforcement and understanding how everyone acts together.”
Working around the COVID-19 pandemic
Per branching out, Noblesville Diversity Coalition member Norman Williams said the group is looking at what it can offer online.
“A challenge is that the (COVID-19) guidelines keep changing,” he said. “Especially with the schools back in session, we have to figure out how to get everyone together, how to reach out to these people.”
Noblesville Police Dept. Deputy Chief Shannon Trump said HOA meetings and community engagement events have gone virtual, making it more difficult for the NPD to make connections with the community.
“Our next steps are trying to find the perfect mix of people to build the initial group we have for our meetings and identify those individuals to be a part of that process moving forward,” Trump said.