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Local law enforcement officers “build bridges” with Scott Airmen

Police officer speaking into a microphone.

Police Chief Rich Wittenauer, Shiloh Police Department chief of police, answers a question during a community panel on Scott Air Force Base, Illinois., April 13, 2021. Airmen attending the panel asked questions on numerous topics such as law enforcement training, accountability and their personal experiences in law enforcement. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Isaac Olivera)

Military member speaking into microphone.

U.S. Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Timothy Ogan, 375th Security Forces operations superintendent, answers a question during a community panel on Scott Air Force Base, Illinois., April 13, 2021. Airmen attending the panel asked questions on numerous topics such as law enforcement training, accountability and about their personal experiences in law enforcement. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Isaac Olivera)

Group of people sitting on a stage.

Local law enforcement listens to U.S. Air Force Col. J Scot Heathman, 375th Air Mobility Wing commander, during a community panel on Scott Air Force Base, Illinois., April 13, 2021. Airmen attending the panel asked questions on numerous topics such as law enforcement training, accountability and about their personal experiences in law enforcement. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Isaac Olivera)

Police officer smiling.

Police Sgt. Calvin Dye Jr., Illinois State Police, has a conversation before a community panel on Scott Air Force Base, Illinois, April 13, 2021. Airmen attending the panel asked questions on numerous topics such as law enforcement training, accountability and about their personal experiences in law enforcement. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Isaac Olivera)

SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill – Local law enforcement representatives recently participated in a panel discussion with Airmen to share some of their own personal experiences and address questions about accountability issues.

 

The panel discussion, titled “Bridges that Build Community,” was hosted April 13 by Team Scott’s Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging team. It gave attendees the opportunity to interact with the Shiloh, O’Fallon, Fairview Heights and Illinois State police departments as well as the 375th Security Forces Squadron.

 

Panel members spoke to numerous topics such as law enforcement training, accountability and their personal law enforcement experiences. For example, local police departments explained how conducting realistic training is critical when teaching officers, so they can understand how to take an uneasy situation and develop it into a safe encounter for both parties. 

 

“We make a concerted effort to have these training situations where they don’t end up with an officer pulling [his or her] gun,” said Lt. David Kitley, Fairview Heights Police Department. “We work with our officers [on] communications skills to de-escalate.”

 

The answers provided by the law enforcement were well received by the attendees. The atmosphere of the panel was described as a professional as well as productive, and the attendees believed it was beneficial to establish a relationship with the officers.  

 

Airman 1st Class Quinton Carson, one of the volunteers for the event, said, “I feel like the panel was very thought provoking and a necessary foundation in establishing a stronger sense of community among the demographics of the local population.” 

 

Pamela Dorsey, DI&B co-chair, said she believes this event allowed local law enforcement and attendees to understand more about each other by being transparent and providing perspective.

 

“Sometimes we have to wade into deep waters to discover what kind of current lies below,” said Dorsey. “We weren’t sure what would be found in those deep waters and to our pleasant surprise, we found commonality, we found transparency, we found community.”

 

The DI&B team are a group of Airmen and Department of Defense personnel at Scott AFB who aim to empower a culture of belonging, and work to help Airmen reach their potential. The Bridges that Build Community panel was one of their efforts to empower a culture of belonging.

 

The panel discussion is available for viewing/listening at https://youtu.be/3p-Y9rcaqA0.