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Confidence in Outagamie County law enforcement low among African Americans

Posted at 9:42 PM, Dec 13, 2023
and last updated 2023-12-13 22:42:42-05
  • A report by the nonprofit, "People of Progression," aimed to shed light on policing and race in Outagamie County
  • Many survey respondents disagree that police in Outagamie County contribute to the safety and protection of marginalized groups in the county
  • "People of Progression" invited all law enforcement agencies in the county to a presentation of the findings. No members of law enforcement showed up

(The following is a transcription of the full broadcast story)

Issues between policing and race aren't new, but an Appleton nonprofit is bringing it back into the spotlight. I’m your Appleton neighborhood reporter Olivia Acree and I sat down with the group "People of Progression" to talk about their report about interactions between Outagamie police and the African American community.

“A lot of the stories that we heard are really the same stories that you'll hear anywhere that you ask,” Faith Roska said. “I mean this isn't just a problem here. It's a problem nationwide."

She works for nonprofit “People of Progression." They just completed a report looking at Outagamie County police interactions with the African American community. They wanted to present it to local law enforcement.

“We get we have disproportionate contact; we know that that's a fact that's not debatable,” Roska said.

But that’s not what happened.

“There were not any officers from any departments in Outagamie County that were there,” Roska said.

They weren’t there to hear that many survey respondents disagree that police in Outagamie County contribute to the safety and protection of marginalized groups in the county. And disagree with feeling safer around police departments in our county.

Roska said that the Grand Chute police were helpful in collecting data for the report, so I talked to them.

“How can we better serve our community as law enforcement officers?” Officer Davis said.

Officer Dylan Davis told me that all officers go through bias training.

“Somebody may call in a suspicious person complaint the basis of that could be from their implicit or explicit biases. So, our officers are trained to evaluate the call for service,” said Davis.

Suspicious person complaints were a major part of Roska's findings.

She suggested police collect demographic information on these calls, but Davis explained the issue there.

“We are a member of tip 411, people can text into that tip line, and we don't even get their phone number,” said Davis.

There are still unanswered questions but Roska knows one thing for certain.

“Not I think I know, our police departments and our community organizations need to be making intentional relationships with one another, so that we can better serve these communities,” Roska said.

I asked Roska if she did this same report ten years from now, what she hopes the findings would look like. She said a lot could change in just a year, but she hopes to see progress.