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Town of Gilbert sets meeting to discuss racism and police reform

Police investigating possible kidnapping attempt in Gilbert
Posted at 5:38 PM, Jun 10, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-10 22:10:48-04

GILBERT, AZ — The Town of Gilbert is setting aside three nights over the next week, where the community can voice concerns and share ideas with town and police officials about racism and police reform.

Through the town's website, community members can schedule a 25-minute time slot. Town officials, representatives from the Gilbert Police Department and Gilbert school districts will be at the sessions, which take place the evenings of June 11, 16 and 18.

"In that dialogue we had with the protesters and those we've spoken to is they want to be heard, “said Gilbert Police Chief Michael Soelberg. "There's issues that need to be discussed. Not only within the police department but within the community."

Soelberg told ABC15 the goal is to take the feedback and find tangible ways to improve.

"That is our goal of the message, is that we are listening," Chief Soelberg said. "From there, then we will start to develop a plan to take action. So it's not just listening, we're done, everyone's happy, we're good, check the box."

On Tuesday, the Phoenix Police Department announced they will suspend the use and training of the carotid control technique, which is a form of a chokehold.

Soelberg told ABC15 that technique has not been a part of Gilbert's Use of Force Policy, but they are looking to hear from residents about how to improve as a department.

"Our officers do excellent work every single day and most of the agencies throughout the country are in that same way," Soelberg said. "We're offended by when an officer steps out of line and commits a crime or violates policy. So, as a chief we've got to make sure that we're holding our people accountable and we're working with the community to have that oversight and that openness and transparency to where they trust that if somebody does something wrong we will fix it."