- Associated Press - Thursday, August 11, 2016

TUPELO, Miss. (AP) - Tupelo Mayor Jason Shelton has unveiled a plan to help the Tupelo Police Department rebuild trust with the community.

The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal reports (https://bit.ly/2aYfC1e) Shelton proposed six committees to the Tupelo City Council on Tuesday.

The committees will consist of city employees, City Council members and Tupelo residents. Each committee will have a different focus, which include reviewing the city’s hiring and training policies and developing a community-oriented policing program.

Community members have recently called for the police department to face increased scrutiny and undertake more community engagement. These concerns have been amplified since Antwun “Ronnie” Shumpert, who was black, was shot and killed by white Tupelo police officer Tyler Cook on June 18 after Shumpert fled from a traffic stop.

Shelton reiterated his belief this administration and police department have already invested significant resources into community engagement.

However, he noted that “perception is reality” and said the city must be attentive to the demands that have been made.

“As we found out on June 18, it just takes a single incident for that trust to be severely strained,” Shelton said. “We can’t rest on the fact that we are doing things. We have to do more.”

According to Shelton, he’s been in discussion with organizations such as the Lee County NAACP and the Coalition of Concerned Pastors and Leaders.

Based on discussions with those groups, Shelton has proposed six different issues for focus.

A committee will be appointed to study each issue and present proposals for action back to the city council by Nov. 1.

The council will then have the authority to implement, reject or modify those proposals.

The six areas of focus include:

-Further develop community oriented policing program.

-Possibility of a police advisory board.

-Review the city’s hiring and training policies.

-Develop grassroots engagement through the neighborhood coordinator.

-Engage faith-based, community groups to implement programs directed at community enhancement.

-Develop task and purpose for community liaison role.

Some council members expressed concerns these six committees will duplicate the efforts of boards that already exist such as the Accountability Task Force and the Community Outreach Task Force.

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Information from: Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal, https://djournal.com

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