One year later: EPD continues to welcome community dialogue following 2020 downtown protest

Updated: Jun. 4, 2021 at 6:13 PM CDT
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EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WFIE) - This weekend, it will be one year since hundreds made their voices heard in downtown Evansville.

Those people were calling for justice and change in the wake of the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor.

In the year since, the Evansville Police Department has vowed to make changes of their own for the better.

14 News had a conversation with EPD Chief Billy Bolin in the days that followed the protest. He told us the department was going to put an emphasis on de-escalation tactics.

Another point of emphasis made at the time was making sure lower-ranking officers are comfortable intervening in situations where they know something is wrong. Police said that’s called the “duty to intervene.”

“We want to empower all of our officers to be strong enough to say no, that’s not right,” Assistant Chief Phil Smith told 14 News Friday. “And sometimes when we’re officers, we need someone to help us out in those situations because this is a tough job.”

The conversation doesn’t stop there. Assistant Chief Smith said Evansville police is one of the leading departments in the nation in community outreach.

Smith says officers are continuing their Walking Wednesday initiative. That’s where officers get out into the community to interact with people. Continuing this year is Coffee with a Cop.

“We’re always open to hear about new partnerships and ideas that people have,” Smith said. “It’s one thing not just sitting there and lying on your laurels, and say ‘Hey, we already do this and we’re not willing to change.’ That’s not something that we want to be stuck in. I do believe that the men and women of the Evansville Police Department always do a great job of connecting with the community. We can always improve on those things.”

A community conversation is something that Smith said he wants to continue having with the public.

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