110 W. New York Ave.
DeLand, FL 32720
By Pat Andrews
posted Mar 17, 2014 - 11:41:00am
Members of the Spring Hill community will host a community meeting with police and civic leaders at 6:30 p.m. tomorrow, Tuesday, March 18, at the Chisholm Community Center at 520 S. Clara Ave. in DeLand.
Everyone is invited.
The meeting, organized by the West Volusia branch of the National Association for Colored People (NAACP), will follow up on concerns expressed following Marlon Brown's death in 2013 under the wheels of a DeLand police cruiser. Outrage gripped the predominantly African-American Spring Hill community of DeLand, and complaints about police came from many residents.
In response, DeLand Police Chief Bill Ridgway and others began going door to door in the predominantly African-American neighborhood of Spring Hill, to strengthen relationships and hear residents’ concerns firsthand.
“The public will have a chance to hear the findings from our months of door-to-door canvassing of the Spring Hill citizens, and to hear their concerns,” organizers of the community meeting said.
West Volusia NAACP President Mike Williams said a task force, formed by the NAACP, the Concerned Clergy Coalition, the DeLand Police Department and community members, spent months canvassing the community and talking to people.
Along with Williams and Ridgway, Assistant Police Chief Randy Henderson and other Police Department brass, along with community leaders Bo Davenport, former Sheriff’s Deputy Grady Jackson, Gail Paisley, and others, took part.
Williams said he has already seen a change. At the meeting, he said, the police chief will lay out the findings and talk about the next steps.
DeLand Mayor Bob Apgar and City Manager Michael Pleus will attend, along with County Council Member At-large Joyce Cusack.
"This has brought us all to the table," Williams said.
He said people in Spring Hill have already noticed a difference in police, who are doing their job to protect the community in a friendly manner, without some of the heavy-handedness Spring Hill residents had experienced in the past.
And, Williams said, he's "really sold" on Police Chief Ridgway, after getting to know him.
Ridgway returned the compliment, saying he and his staff have been pleased to work with Williams and the others.
"We're heading in the right direction," Ridgway said.
The meeting will allow residents to ask questions of him in an open forum, Ridgway noted.
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