NHC Vice-Chair Barfield Hopes Community Relations Advisory Committee Will Improve Police Relations
Back in 2009, the New Hanover County Human Relations Department was shut down due to budget cuts. Now, the county is joining forces with the City of Wilmington to reach out to the public in a new way. Vice-Chairman Jonathan Barfield hopes the new Community Relations Advisory Committee will help improve relations between citizens and cops.
Barfield says the sheriff and police chief are doing a great job communicating with the public, but he still sees work to be done. This view is supported, in part, by some recent interactions between his family and local law enforcement:
"My 17-year-old daughter was babysitting at Kure Beach. She left there a little after 11 o’clock and left her hat at the peoples’ home. Turned around to go back and get it, driving slow, dark. She gets pulled over by a Kure Beach police officer, and it really bothered me that my daughter was pulled over for no reason. So I called to talk to the officer, and he said, 'Well, your daughter was driving slow. I thought she was trying to elude me.' Well, that didn’t make sense, number one. And then he said, 'Well, I recognized that her car, that car did not belong in that cul-de-sac.' My first thought was, 'Sir, you’re a tourist town. Do you pull over every car that doesn’t fit the profile of being at Kure Beach?' It didn’t make any sense. So I know that we do have issues."
Barfield says that the Community Relations Advisory Committee will help bring those issues to light and make sure everyone is treated with the same level of respect and dignity.
The Kure Beach Chief of Police says he reviewed the incident Barfield described and found that the officer had reasonable grounds to stop the motorist.
The New Hanover County Commissioners are still accepting applications from citizens who are interested in participating in the Community Relations Advisory Committee. For more information, click here. The deadline to apply for a county-appointed spot is September 2. County appointments will be made on September 19.
The deadline to apply for a city-appointed spot on the Citizen Relations Advisory Committee has passed.