In an effort to encourage open communication between police and the residents of Greenport, the Anti-Bias Task Force, the Town of Southold and the Village of Greenport are hosting a forum called “Synergy Greenport” on Jan. 23 at St. Agnes School.
Coordinated by task force member Christopher North, the event is intended to open up a dialogue between law enforcement and the community.
Sonia Spar, co-chairperson of the Anti-Bias Task Force, has seen the way poor communications between police and a community in other parts of the country can cause distrust.
“We want to make sure that doesn’t happen here,” says Spar. “It is important that the community feels that the police department is an entity to trust and go to. It’s important not just for the police department to hear the community but for the community to hear the police department — what are the challenges and concerns.”
Southold Town Police Chief Martin Flatley, who attended the organizational meeting for the event at Town Hall Monday morning, hopes for a good turnout and encourages Greenport residents to attend.
“Officer Alex Chenche will be there with me to help with the Spanish speakers,” said Flatley. “He’s really established himself well in the community. He’s been going around to the local schools, addressing different groups of Spanish-speaking students, trying to get a rapport back and forth and answering any questions that they have.”
Chenche, who lived in Ecuador until the age of 17, is currently the only Hispanic member of the Southold Police Department. He accompanied the chief to the task force’s first Synergy forum, which was held at the Southold Recreation Center in April. About 25 people came together for pizza and conversation at that event.
Flyers announcing Synergy Greenport will be distributed in both Spanish and English to encourage as many people as possible to attend. In order to make the meeting accessible to residents who don’t drive, the St. Agnes School location was chosen because it is in downtown Greenport.
The meeting will be held on Jan. 23 from 6 – 7 p.m. at St. Agnes School on the corner of 6th and Front Streets in Greenport. Everyone is welcome.