Minden Police Chief Steve Cropper intends to remedy that with a series of informative public forums – the first of which is scheduled for Thursday at 6:30 p.m. at St. Rest Baptist Church on East Union Street.
"We've had some interest from citizens about having a forum," Cropper said. "I'll have five or six officers there and introduce them to the people – make it a question-and-answer thing."
Cropper said it has come to his attention that a lot of the newer officers are unfamiliar with the local citizens and feels the forum will be good for all involved.
"The officers treat everybody the same," he said. "When some of the good people are confronted by police, they are treated the same as Mr. Bad Apples is talked to. It stems from the mere fact that officers don't know them, and they have to protect themselves."
Cropper said there are no laws that govern how a traffic stop is handled. It's a matter of the officer's comfort level.
"A lot of people have questions," he said. "They don't know what to do on a traffic stop, and the first thing they do is throw the door open and barrel out. The officer doesn't know if he's in danger and reacts accordingly."
However, he said, it doesn't mean people who break the law will receive special treatment because of their identity.
Every officer handles the situation differently, he said.
"Having a forum like this will help people understand the officers and vice versa," Cropper said.
All Minden patrol units have video cameras, which is helpful in a traffic stop situation, said the chief. However, he hopes the forum will answer many more questions and form a better relationship between police and citizens.
Off-duty officers at the forum will be Det. Heath Balkom, Off. 1st Class Jennifer Anderson, Off. 1st Class Joel Kendrick, SRO Tokia Whiting, Off. Darrell Hughes and an on-duty uniformed officer.