HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — Huntsville Police are ensuring residents know how to interact with a police officer if they’re stopped or encounter one in the community. Doing so makes any experience with officers less stressful and safer for everyone involved. "Here in Huntsville, overwhelmingly, interactions between police and citizens are positive for the most part, and we want to see that continue," Jonathan Rossow, chairman of The Huntsville Police Citizens Advisory Council shares.
The Huntsville Police Citizens Advisory Council (HPCAC) partnered with the Huntsville Police Department to host a community forum on tips for handling police encounters. “Knowing what to do during a police encounter is critical for everyone’s safety and well-being,” said Huntsville Police Chief Kirk Giles. “Although it might be inconvenient or frustrating, officers have a number of reasons why they might stop you. We hope you attend this forum to learn more about how to safely and calmly engage during an interaction.”
The HPCAC serves to promote productive police and community interaction and foster mutual trust by assisting the police in achieving a greater understanding of the complex social fabric of the community, which Rossow shares can be difficult. "If you look across the country, there are thousands of interactions between police and citizens on any given day. Majority of those are positive interactions and it's only the small percentage and unfortunately the ones that make the news and sometimes, you know, for communities out there that builds anxiety."
HPCAC brings a citizen’s perspective on the policies and procedures of law enforcement and helps advise on a variety of topics, including diversity, recruitment, training and discipline. "You get to meet know officers, get to see them, you know, as a fellow citizen, fellow citizen that has a family, fellow citizen that has children, you know, lives in our community, also wants to see a positive outcome," Rossow states.
The forum was designed as an opportunity to participate in thoughtful dialogue with HPD, learn something new and provide feedback for future police operations. "Education is an important component of the HPCAC,” Rossow said. “We hope the community better understands common reasons for routine police stops and how to handle the encounter.”