Tempe city officals, police officers and BLM meet to discuss community policing

Posted at 7:51 PM, Jul 21, 2016

Tempe city leaders, law enforcement and members of the Black Lives Matter movement gathered in city council chambers Thursday night to have an honest and open discussion about community policing.

After protests in the streets last week, Arizona Black Lives Matter Chair Reverend Reginald Walton took the stand in the quiet room.

"There comes a time when you must come to the table with an open mind and a closed mouth," said Walton. 

Other BLM leaders talked about why young black people may fear police.

"When I see blue lights behind me, I don't know if I'm going to survive that contact," said the Vice President of BLM.

BLM leaders brought a specific study to the table showing what they call a disparity in the large amount of black arrests made in the city.

"How do we collectively work together to make our community a better place?"asked former Tempe City Council member Corey Woods. 

With all the talking, some members of the audience were not very impressed. One ASU student stood up said he wants to see more action. 

"What can actually be done in this chamber?" asked the young man. "Pass a law or ordinance or whatever it may be to actually effect this change, because we are only talking about how we feel."

The police chief explained that this is the first step. And there is a lot of work to be done.

"It's essential that we hear, that understand that we engage in understanding," said Tempe Police Chief Sylvia Moir. "We must engage in dialogue and make commitments at the end of tonight."

The meeting went well past the two hour planned time, with a plan that these were the first words of an open and long conversation, which followed a march down Mill Avenue in protest against police violence last week.

Earlier in the day, Rev. Jarrett Maupin badmouthed and threatened to boycott the conversation.

“What we are planning tonight is to come out and protest what we think is grave hypocrisy in the City of Tempe and really a publicity stunt by rented Negroes and Councilman David Schapira," said Rev. Jarrett Maupin.

Maupin presented a list of seven concerns, saying black people were not fairly represented in high-ranking city government jobs.

“You have a new police chief [and] a new administration here at city hall that has purged African-Americans from leadership,” Maupin said.

He even named three black male city employees who he said had been demoted, but all three men told ABC15 that their job changes were not demotions and the moves had no racial motivation.

Pastor Brenda Valdez, president of Tempe's African-American Advisory Committee, expressed her frustration with Maupin,

The head of the Black Lives Matter campaign in Arizona was undaunted by Maupin’s comments.

“Tonight is not about epithets," said Rev. Reginald Walton. “Tonight is about results, and the people who are coming here tonight are known for their results.”

"The City of Tempe values diversity within our community and in all levels of our organization," said Tempe Mayor Mark Mitchell. "We have employees representing communities of color, the LGBTQ community, and individuals with disabilities. Fifty percent of our senior management in City Hall are women. In Tempe, we know that the different perspectives and life experiences that come with a diverse staff lead to an innovative and well-run city.”