By: Saraana Jamraj
Hoping to create better relationships between the police and residents, Tamarac City Commissioner Mike Gelin is hosting a forum to help move the city forward.
“It is a key relationship—conversation and action around this topic are necessary to build a health community,” said Gelin.
Called Cops & Community Forum, Gelin first reached out to police officers, residents, experts, and community leaders, to have representation across the aisles. He believes that this discussion will be a step in the direction of rededicating policing as a public service and an increase in public safety.
Several police officers will be participating in the event, including retired Sweetwater Police Lieutenant Marcos Villanueva, retired New York Police Department Officer Thaddeus Gamory, North Miami Police’s Mayor James Mesidor, and Miramar’s Chief of Police, Dexter Williams.
And, it’s not just police officers who will be part of the forum — Dr. Caren Hutchinson, conflict resolutions specialist, Dr. Delvena Thomas, a board-certified psychiatrist, Rain Jarret and Sky Jarret of Transcend LLC, and Criminal Defense Attorney Sue Ann Robinson, will be part of the panel.
“On the panel, you will learn about community informed policing and its connection to public safety and satisfaction,” said Gelin.
Small groups of police officers, experts, and residents will gather to discuss how to bring about the necessary changes to build community trust and solutions on how to move forward.
Gelin knows about these issues firsthand—he spoke up about his false arrest that provoked national discussion. At the commission meeting following that incident, dozens of community members attended and spoke about their own experiences with police, many of which were negative — especially for people of color.
It wasn’t the first time Tamarac residents, and their relationship with the police officers made headlines. Last April, Broward Sheriff’s Office deputies went viral for pepper-spraying and slamming a teen’s head into the ground. Sheriff Gregory Tony recently fired Deputy Christopher Krickovich for that offense, as he awaits trial.
Gelin spoke up about the incident went it first happened, and he has continued to engage in open conversations about the fractured relationship between police officers and residents.
Now, he wants to build a bridge, rooted in trust, between law enforcement and members of the community, and he’s found a group who want to do the same.
“It’s the right thing to do. I appreciate law enforcement, and the community appreciates them. It’s important to have these discussions and build better relationships,” said Gelin.
Gelin said that the results and recommendations from these conversations would be organized into policy requests for the local police force in Tamarac.
Dinner will be served at the event from 6:00 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., and the discussion will follow, from 6:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. The forum takes place on Thursday, March 5, at The Tamarac Community Center, 8601 W Commercial Boulevard.
The event is free and open to the public, and guests can register here.
- Saraana Selene Jamraj is a writer, activist, and a student pursuing her master's degree in mass communications at Florida International University.
She's currently the communications manager at The Salt Box in Parkland and has lived in Coral Springs since 2004.