(COLORADO SPRINGS) — In their ongoing bid to bridge the gap between law enforcement and the community, the Colorado Springs Law Enforcement Transparency and Advisory Commission (LETAC) orchestrated its inaugural town hall meeting on Wednesday, Aug. 30.

The gathering, which took place Wednesday night at the Penrose Public Library, served as a forum for local residents to vocalize their expectations, queries, and apprehensions concerning the Colorado Springs Police Department (CSPD).

“We have meetings twice a month, so the community can come in and express their concerns, whatever the case may be. But we felt that wasn’t enough. So we figured we can go out and actually get into the community,” said LETAC Chair, De’Ontay Roy, outlining the commission’s proactive approach to community engagement.

LETAC’s first town hall meeting unfolded as an occasion for the community to directly communicate with the commission. A handful of community members seized the opportunity to share personal experiences, voice concerns, and seek clarity on police practices.

At the heart of LETAC’s purpose is its role as an intermediary, channeling policy recommendations to the Colorado Springs City Council with the aim of enhancing the relationship between law enforcement and the public.

“We are most interested in being a conduit to the community. That’s why we’re here tonight. We want to hear from you in ways that will help shape our direction moving forward,” said Deb Walker, LETAC communications coordinator.

The establishment of LETAC stemmed from mounting apprehensions regarding policing practices and transparency, a sentiment that was amplified following the death of De’Von Bailey at the hands of Colorado Springs police officers back in 2019.

During the town hall, LETAC commissioners participated in table discussions with community members, delving into topics such as the community’s perception of safety and the interpretation of the phrase “protect and serve.”

The discussions uncovered a range of perspectives, with one participant stating, “I feel like the slogan ‘protect and serve’ implies some kind of social contract, and if there is, we should have oversight over those people who are supposedly there to protect and serve, right?”

Roy articulated the significance of this town hall as a starting point for an ongoing process.

“Our direction where we’re going is basically moving forward. We’re constantly wanting to take in feedback, process that, and effectively communicate that to the City Council, CSPD, and the Mayor’s Office to make sure that we’re all on the same page as a community, as we’re all a part of the community,” explained Roy.

With plans to conduct the next town hall early next year, LETAC remains dedicated to fostering open dialogue, transparency, and collaboration between law enforcement and the local community, in hopes of paving the way for a safer and more harmonious Colorado Springs.