Local and state leaders talk criminal justice reform in the Cape Fear

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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Leaders from around the area spoke to state officials on Thursday about racial disparities and ideas for police reform in the Cape Fear.

The North Carolina Task Force for Racial Equity and Criminal Justice held the virtual meeting with criminal justice advocates and members of law enforcement.

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Speakers brought up discussions about citizen review boards, qualified immunity, relationships with the community, and implicit bias training.

Wilmington Pastor Jermaine Armour says his church is on the south side and having law enforcement present in casual settings brings a sense of calmness.

“The more that we see our law enforcement be visible in a way where they’re not coming to arrest anyone or search for anyone or look for anyone, but just because, it’s going to make a very big difference,” Armour said.

“To be successful in law enforcement today is relationships, relationships, relationships,” New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Ken Sarvis said. “It is very important for us to build those. They do not, and when I say they I’m talking about the community, does not to see us for the first time when something bad happens in our community.”

Sarvis also says they go through implicit bias training, resilience training, and a number of other programs.

When hiring officers, he says they try to build a diverse team that looks like the community.