On Wednesday, members of the Polk County law enforcement community met for a working luncheon with ministers of several local predominantly black churches for the purpose of fostering community relationships and partnerships, improving local channels of communication, and discussing contemporary criminal justice topics of interest. Among the topics discussed were ways to divert youthful offenders and other troubled youth from the criminal justice system and onto a more productive path. In addition, the ministerial group was informed regarding the duties, roles and jurisdiction of the various law enforcement agencies in Polk County. “This is actually something we’ve been doing for a couple of years now every six months or so,” Polk County District Attorney Lee Hon stated. “Pastor Kenneth Darden and I got together and felt that we could work to improve the climate that exists between our criminal justice system and the minority communities we serve so we started hosting luncheons. Pastor Darden reached out to other ministers to join us, and I think it’s become a very worthwhile effort and allows us to exchange some pretty good ideas,” Hon stated. “In the past, we’ve discussed the court system, the importance of jury service, and how grand juries work,” Hon added. “It’s no big secret that in many communities around the nation, a very divisive and adversarial relationship has developed between law enforcement and minority communities. We don’t want that to happen here in Polk County so we started our own effort to ‘build bridges’ as Pastor Darden puts it,” Hon concluded.
Attending Wednesday’s luncheon were Pastor Kenneth Darden, Macedonia Baptist Church; Rev. T.C. Cooper, Macedonia Baptist Church; Pastor Keith Johnson, St. Luke’s Baptist Church; Pastor M. Lewis, New Bethlehem Baptist Church; Pastor Lou Ann Franklin, Manna From Heaven Church; Pastor L. Rogers, U Can World Wide Ministry; Quinton Blackstone, motivational speaker; District Attorney Lee Hon; Polk County Chief Deputy Sheriff Byron Lyons; Livingston Police Chief Dennis Clifton, Detective Matt Parrish; DPS Sgt. Sammy Lattner; DPS Trooper Chris Cain; Chief Juvenile Probation Officer Earnest Jackson; and Polk County Assistant prosecutors Kari Allen, Pam Walker, Tommy Coleman, RaQuell Hunt and Nicole Washington.
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