New city effort aims to build trust between police and community

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — In an effort to build stronger relationships between police and the community, LMPD is partnering with the city of Louisville to launch Project Synergy. 

It’s an effort to create 90-minute action sessions where residents and police participate in guided discussions.

This comes after one major issue, questionable traffic stops, led to a break in trust between police and some residents.

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Patricia Mathison lives in West Louisville and says she will be bringing many friends to the next session.

“This is something we’ve needed in our community for a long time,” Mathison explains, this is the opportunity to take advantage of this open door.

“I think that there is a great lack of trust in the police department and I think that the only way you can regain trust is you have to build relationships,” Mathison said.

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer says it’s all about building safety and police-community relations, so anyone and everyone should be a part of the discussion to get the best possible outcome.

“Let’s say you’re critical about the police, you’re critical about people that are critical about the police, we need you,” Fischer said.

Chief Steve Conrad said while he was hesitant at first, he was impressed by the types of impact that came out of their first conversation.

“The whole goal is to increase the level of trust between our police officers and the community members that we serve,” Conrad said.

To highlight it’s potential success, they brought in advocates from the Illumination Project in Charleston, South Carolina, which the Synergy Project is based off of. 

Papa Smurf is just one of the people who made the trip. He went from felon to community liaison.

“Charleston came to Louisville tonight to make Louisville a safer place,” Papa Smurf explained.

Papa Smurf started going into communities who needed help, on behalf of their longtime mayor, to provide a different voice. 

He explained it showed people who came from different areas that there was someone who could relate to them that was listening. Due to their efforts, when nine African Americans were killed during a bible study in Charleston, their city came together.

“We didn’t riot, we didn’t act out. We didn’t do it. Why? Because he established relationships with us,” Papa Smurf said.

The 90-minute synergy sessions will be held at different spots around town. The next one is happening on January 25th from 1 to 2:30 pm at the table on Portland Ave.

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