Finalists for Director of FW Office of Police Oversight Monitor Answer Community Members’ Questions – NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth

Inside the Como Community Center, the Fort Worth candidates for Director of the Office of Police Oversight Monitor faced the community they would serve.

Michelle Phillips and Bonycle Sokunbi heard from people looking for specific qualifications.

“There’s a difference in urban cities and suburban cities,” community member Wanda Young Davis said. “Also dealing with the urban cities we don’t want anyone that is learning. They should already know what’s going on and what they’re doing when they come in.”

Both finalists were asked about Atatiana Jefferson’s murder by a then Fort Worth officer and what they’d do to prevent another case like this.

Sokunbi said it’s about tactics and accountability.

“When you look at having that type of call for service why are we responding in that way,” Office of Police Oversight Monitor Director Finalist Sokunbi said. “When we talk about responding in hostile situations what are the tactics we have in place and is there going to be accountability for those tactics.”

Phillips said it’s about proper training.

“Biased-based policing training, mediation, conflict management, emotional intelligence training so they have the self-emotional awareness to identify when things are escalating so they can self-de-escalate,” Office of Police Oversight Monitor Director finalist Phillips said.

Both women explained the position they want to take on can’t work without the community’s help.

“You tell us how we can help you,” Phillips said.  “How we can bridge that gap. How we can start building trust so the community feels safer.”

“The role of the community is to remain engaged and communicate with the office about what is happening so we can move the department in the direction it needs to,” Sokunbi said.

The community wants the department to move in a specific direction.

“The cries of the community continue to fall on death ears when it relates to what we want from our city and what it is we want from law enforcement,” community activist Adrian Smith said. “All we are asking for is accountability.  Accountability and transparency.”

The candidates will be interviewed by city leadership Thursday.

A decision could be made in the next few weeks.

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