Anti-Bias Task Force hosting community forum with police Monday

The Riverhead Anti-Bias Task Force is hosting a virtual question-and-answer session with members of the town police department Monday. 

Cindy Clifford, the task force chair, said the Zoom event, which has been dubbed Synergy and is set for 7 p.m., will give community members the opportunity to ask questions and communicate with the police force.  

“It’s not designed to be grilling them or putting them in a hot seat as much as it’s an opportunity to communicate everyone’s experiences and expectations,” she said. “The police … work hard, they’re sometimes in a difficult spot. And there’s a lot of misunderstandings that happen at times.” 

She said she believes there’s a lack of regular communication between the police department and the community, “just by the nature of their job.” The session will give community members a chance to air what’s on their mind. 

The forum will be moderated by James Banks, college coordinator of multicultural affairs at Suffolk Community College. The task force has also tapped him to host future implicit bias trainings

Ms. Clifford said if the event is a success, she hopes to host similar forums on a “somewhat regular basis, maybe three or four times a year.” 

“At that point, once you’ve got that going, then there’s really way more of a conversation that gets deeper and the trust is better, and you’ve established a relationship you can build on,” she said. “Because ultimately, for the anti-bias task force, I think our goal is to reduce separate divisions within the community.” 

The task force is also planning to hold an implicit bias training for public-facing Town of Riverhead employees and some department heads. If there are “enough slots available once everyone has signed up,” the training will be opened to the public.  

People should email [email protected] to register for the forum and submit questions ahead of time. Participants may also ask questions via the chat box during the Zoom session.