Travis County Sheriff's Office encourages positive relationships with law enforcement

Across the nation, news of officer-involved shootings resonates. Right here in Austin, law enforcement is trying to mend any broken trust that may loom in hearts of residents.

“We happen to be dealing with tough times right now,” said Juan Sandavol, Captain, Travis County Sheriff’s Office.

Deputies and officers believe these tough times call for action. Saturday, the Travis County Sheriff's Office held a town hall meeting titled "Building Bridges." It's something they plan to continue, once a month.

“This adds an extra layer into presenting to the community and for the community to understand each other, not only so they can see what we do, but we feel we'll build the trust by answering questions,” said Sandavol.

Deputies say meetings like this can serve as a way to keep officers and deputies from being vilified, and remind people of their true purpose.

“They get a chance to come up close and personal with us in a positive manner and answer some questions versus being on the receiving end of a speeding ticket,” said Sandavol.             

Austin NAACP President Nelson Linder says true change on a large scale starts right here at home.

“You have to engage with local law enforcement where you live. You have to have a relationship,” said Linder.

Linder believes it's important to see both perspectives, one side as a citizen and the other as a police officer.

“There are folks out there on both sides who do the wrong thing, it's a dangerous world. We want to make sure that we're fair,” said Linder.

He says the time to talk about this is now.

“If you don't address these things in a time of peace, guess what, when there's a problem, you're going to have challenge with communication,” said Linder.

While tragedy continues to erupt across the nation, Austin law enforcement is making sure they talk with citizens now, so this city won't be added to the list of tragedies.

Building Bridges is a steering committee co-chaired by Sheriff Greg Hamilton and Reverend Mike Manor.

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