Pasquotank residents are being asked to weigh in on public safety and policing in the county as part of an effort to shape future law enforcement policies and practices.
The Pasquotank Sheriff’s Office said in a press release Friday that residents can sign up to participate in upcoming virtual “listening sessions” through a website, https://pasq-peace.org, created especially for that purpose.
The online sessions, which will be moderated by professional, trained moderators, are part of the Pasquotank Peace Initiative started recently by Pasquotank County officials in the wake of Andrew Brown Jr.’s fatal shooting in April by county sheriff’s deputies.
The sessions are designed to be “small, safe facilitated conversations where community members can express how they feel about public safety and how they want to be served by the Sheriff’s Office,” the release states.
The sessions are also a follow-up to three days of small group sessions, also facilitated by professional moderators, that took place last month involving nearly 100 county residents.
The online sessions are designed for people who either weren’t able to attend those in-person sessions or felt uncomfortable doing so, according to information contained on the pasq-peace.org website.
“We’re looking for the people who may not have the opportunity or access for public meetings or prefer a more private setting to make their voices heard, especially those who have been directly and indirectly impacted by issues of personal and community safety,” the website states.
Residents who agree to participate will be asked to be as candid as they care to be about their “experiences, ideas, beliefs, hopes and frustrations” with public safety and policing.
“This virtual environment is a safe space where candor and truth are sought and valued,” the website states. “The identities of those who choose to participate will be honored, respected and not revealed outside of the group.”
Because moderators want to keep the conversations small and give all participants a chance to speak, 15 people are suggested as the “upper limit” for each session. Once a session is scheduled, Pasquotank Peace Initiative officials will create an online link where participants can access the session.
According to the pasq-peace.org website, three people had signed up for a listening session set for Monday and two have signed up for another on Tuesday. Additional listening sessions, which will be moderated by the Portland Peace Initiative, are scheduled for Wednesday at 6 p.m., Jan. 5 at 5:30 p.m., and Jan. 6 at 6 p.m.
Residents are encouraged to participate in at least one virtual session.
“Participating in a listening session ... (with) others with lived experience and expertise or others who simply care about our county can make a huge difference for you and your church, your school, your community, your neighborhood for public safety and elevating the response to reducing gun violence,” the website states.
When all virtual sessions are complete, the input will be compiled into a report and given to the Sheriff’s Office “for further action,” the website states.
Residents are encouraged to check out the pasq-peace.org/ website periodically to see what “action steps are being taken.”
The Pasquotank Peace Initiative is a collaboration between Police2Peace and Pasquotank County. According to the website, Police2Peace is a national nonprofit “that unites communities, including those that may have experienced violence, around programs that uplift and heal them.” For more about Police2Peace, visit https://police2peace.org/.