CORAL SPRINGS, FL – Allowing a dozen or so protests in Coral Springs over the killing of George Floyd and other African-Americans at the hands of police officers.

Forming a task force in which Coral Springs police administrators, police union officials, community leaders, and others can review police procedures, policies, and funding behind closed doors.

These are among the actions the City of Coral Springs has taken to give residents the opportunity to voice their opinions in the simmering national debate over police operations and spending.

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But is this enough?

Should Coral Springs be doing more to address residents’ concerns over policing? Are there other ways for people to be heard on this issue? And how have Coral Springs officials responded so far to their handling of the protests?

TAPinto Coral Springs posed these questions to the candidates running in the 2020 Coral Springs election.

Here is what the candidates for Seat #3 and Seat #5 said.

 

Andy Kasten (Seat #3)

I think Coral Springs has done a good job to address the George Floyd issue. The city as well as the police have responded and even tee'd up the peaceful protest that occurred in the city. I think that as long as we continue to keep the conversation open, we can continue to evolve and move forward. I do not think we should "defund" the police department or make any knee-jerk changes unless, and until, we have a conversation with our citizens and police to find solutions to this issue.

Together, we can all win if we continue the conversation. 

 

Noor Fawzy (Seat #3)

I thought that our police department’s response to the protests was appropriate. They did not burden anyone’s right to freely express themselves over the death of George Floyd, and I thought it was a good gesture for some of our officers to be present at some of the protests as a way to show community within the city.

I am overall very satisfied with the work of our department. I’d like to see them increase community policing efforts in our city and make community policing a normal practice of the department as it is known to be effective at building strong ties between the police and the community they serve and at achieving crime prevention. Our department can become a trailblazer of sorts in that regard locally.

 

Randal Cutter (Seat #3)

There are an unfortunate number of communities across the United States where the actions of certain police officers have created fear and suspicion in the black community. The awful murder of George Floyd was a moment that brought unity to all those who saw it. The near-unanimous verdict is that this was an atrocity that must be prosecuted.

The largest protest in our community of which I am aware occurred on June 2 in the parking lot of the plaza where my congregation currently meets. I was able to rally the Clergy Coalition to distribute water at the event to keep protesters safe during the hot afternoon. As a result, I was at that protest from the beginning to the end. I was extremely pleased with the way that the police department reached out to businesses in the plaza and surrounding areas, as well as to other stakeholders in the community, to help us all understand what was happening. I was also pleased at how they provided incredible organization and appropriate security during the event. The department even provided a great deal of the water we were able to hand out that day, and along with the event organizers, helped get things back into order at the end. As a result of all I saw, I rate their response very highly.

Thankfully, our community has not been the scene of such an act of police violence as Minneapolis witnessed. While there will always be disagreement over whether a particular use of force is justified in a specific incident, overall, when there has been a question, the question has been dealt with openly and forthrightly by our department. 

 

Joe Morera (Seat #3)

The City’s actions have been swift and appropriate in response to this country-wide upheaval. The immediate action of the City to form a task force of community leaders to review police policies and procedures is to be commended. Conversations like this one serve as another opportunity to reignite interest in community-oriented policing. By engaging with local neighborhood/HOA boards, we can gain insight as to how different segments of the community are being impacted and better understand their needs.

Protesting within the City has thus-far remained peaceful, speaking volumes to our police department.

 

Nancy Metayer (Seat #3)

While I believe that Coral Springs is taking proactive measures in addressing community concerns about policing, there is always more that we can do.

I appreciate joining the newly established task force, which has been created to connect varying perspectives in pushing for transparent efforts. I also commend the Coral Springs Police Department and city officials for not infringing on local protests, ensuring that residents have the ability to exercise their fundamental human right to protest, as guaranteed by the First Amendment.

Still, there are opportunities for improvement throughout the city. Residents who feel impacted by police brutality want to have an outlet for ongoing conversations and to be reassured that they will not fall victim to police brutality. I suggest virtual listening sessions. These conversations would take place with residents in the four unique quadrants (North, East, West and South) of our city and would be designed as a way to actively listen to the concerns of our community members. In sharing strategies and best practices, we can address the national narrative of mistrust.

Historically, black people do not feel safe in the care of the police, and it is therefore important that implemented changes are centered around the voices of people of color. 

 

Abel Pena (Seat #3) could not be reached for comment.

 

Coral Springs Vice Mayor Joy Carter (Seat #5)

We are dealing with a lethal virus of racism. People have had enough of "differences" and they have the right to be heard in peaceful protest. With the city’s new task force, I am optimistic that conversation will bring needed change. 

(Are there other ways for people to be heard on this issue?) I would like to see community forums that result in smaller groups to pull out and address key issues.

(And how have Coral Springs officials responded so far to their handling of the protests?) Coral Springs is proactive with its approach to solving issues. This is not to say that we are perfect, as we are all individuals with individual opinions, in spite of training. There is never, "enough.”  

 

Cathy Remy (Seat #5)

First, I would like I offer my sincere condolences to the family of George Floyd. Our peaceful protests have made an impact toward us getting the communities' voices heard and now in order to move into a place of healing, let us identify the issues, and then work toward a solution.

The implementation of a task force is a great concept, however, performing an analysis of the history of policing in the community will help identify key issues. It is also imperative that an analysis takes place on how we hire and train our officers, and that we are equipping them as community builders to maintain “faith” in our community. Changes such as requiring accompanying officers to intervene when excessive force is being utilized, yearly training on racial profiling, and studied approved methods on de-escalation. The inauguration will ameliorate some concerns. 

Coral Springs Police have done a tremendous work being vocal about their position on the tragic death of George Floyd. A commission meeting, that would allow the voices of the community to be heard solely on these issues should be prioritized.

Overall. Coral Springs officials have responded efficiently to the ongoing protest. 

 

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