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Law enforcement officials talk change in policing

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Wausau, Wis. (WAOW) -- Local law enforcement and public policy officials came together to discuss policing in America in the wake of George Floyd's death.

Wausau Police Chief Ben Bliven and Jim Palmer of the Police Association joined forces with the Wisconsin Institute of Public Policy and Service (WIPPS) to discuss the state of the relationship between police and the community.

That relationship is strained right now, with calls to defund or even disband the police at an all time high.

That's why Eric Giordano, the executive director of WIPPS, wanted this conversation to not be politically charged.

"There's plenty of heat, there's plenty of debate, there's plenty of negativity and divisiveness," he said.

Topics discussed during the conversation included diversity and inclusion among police forces. Both guests agreed that implicit bias and systemic racism need to end.

They also agreed that excessive use of force is harmful to police relationships in the community.

"We want to show our success of law enforcement through not using force," Bliven said.

One of the biggest themes of the conversation was continued communication and dialogue between officers and among the community.

"It just became clear to me that they really want to talk to the public, and they really want to get the message out to the public," said Giordano.

Bliven said he hopes people who watched the discussion were able to see a new perspective.

"We need to step outside of our comfort zone and I challenge our community to think differently about racism," he said.

Natalie Sopyla

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