Sioux Falls is a growing city, and the people tasked with helping it run smoothly and safely are protecting a lot of people from a lot of different backgrounds. On Monday an event billed as “A Conversation on Race & Justice” stressed communication about issues that aren’t always easy to address. The Sioux Falls Police Department had three members in front of the people gathered for the event organized by both the Sioux Falls nonprofit Establishing Sustainable Connections and the NAACP.
“The purpose of this particular event was really to see how we can bridge the gap, or bridge the divide between law enforcement and communities of color, disparaged communities and also less-fortunate communities,” Establishing Sustainable Connections Vice President Julian Beaudion said.
The discussion touched on race, community, law enforcement and the ways in which they interact.
“Venues like this is important, because first of all, you rub elbows with people that’s in authority, and perhaps they can like this get some questions from us, so that we can inform them of what’s going on,” Felton Beckette of Sioux Falls said.
“One of the specific questions was had we offered training that specifically address racial inequalities or racial disparities that citizens may face and quite frankly I don’t think we have anything that specifically addresses that,” Sgt. Andrew Siebenborn with the Sioux Falls Police Department said.
Sgt. Siebenborn was one of the officers here.
“Everyone in there’s got to have the courage to have these tough conversations,” Siebenborn said.
Beaudion brings up a similar point when asked if progress was made on the event’s purpose.
“It starts with uncomfortable conversation, and I think we got to a level to where our panelists were a little bit uncomfortable, and our audience was a little bit uncomfortable, and once we reach that level, I think we can start breaking some barriers and creating some effective change,” Beaudion said.
“I liked what I heard because I look at it, it’s a start,” Beckette said. “We have to start somewhere.”