Two years of behind-the-scenes police work in York County looks to eliminate fear

YORK COUNTY, Pa. --  There's been some behind the scenes police work going on in York County.

Chiefs of police met every month with clergy members and community leaders over the past two years.

Thursday night, they invited neighbors to join the conversation for the first time.

It all started because police say they needed to build more trust in their communities, a way to prevent something like the 2015 Baltimore riots from happening in York County.

"In some communities, especially for African American men and boys, has turned to fear of being shot or killed by a police officer," said a pastor.

Fear hit close to home in York County after the Baltimore Riots, when people protested the death of Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old black man who suffered a fatal spine injury while in police custody.

Those events served as the spark in York County to which police chiefs and clergy decided to gather.

Since, they've been brain storming ways to make positive change.

"During that time period, we realized we don’t want that to happen in our York community, and we’re one shooting and one incident away from something like that from erupting," said Chief Daniel Stump, Springettsbury Township Police Department.

"It was a proactive approach. So happy they started it, so glad to be a part of this group," said Chief Troy Bankert of York City Police.

Police departments like  York City, Springettsbury Township, Spring Garden, and York Area Regional getting involved with the coalition.

"Through this process, we learned people want us to listen to them," explained Chief Stump. "Law enforcement, we rush in. We get people back on their feet, and we rush out. We do what we need to do cause we always want to get to the next call, and there’s times we need to stop and listen.”

They're also creating an understanding of why police do the things they do.

"They go to their clergy. They go to their community leaders, and they say, ‘hey, one of the York City officers was being really cruel to me, I think he was being really offensive,'" explained Bankert. "They [community leaders] can expand on what goes in these meetings, like, 'nope, this is the way Troy explains it. This is the way Chief Bankert explains it.'"

They're putting aside racial bias to create 'One York'.

Police chiefs had one main message at the meeting - they don’t want the community to fear them.

Notice: you are using an outdated browser. Microsoft does not recommend using IE as your default browser. Some features on this website, like video and images, might not work properly. For the best experience, please upgrade your browser.