ST. LOUIS COUNTY, MO (KPLR) –Key St. Louis area civic and police leaders opened up a frank dialogue Wednesday morning during a roundtable discussion at the University of Missouri St. Louis.
Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster organized the session in hopes of producing ideas to improve police and community communication.
MO State Senator Maria Chappelle-Nadal and St. Louis City Alderman Antonio French, who have both been among the protestors for weeks, joined the conversation along with MO Highway Patrol Capt. Ron Johnson and the new director of Missouri's Department of Public Safety Dan Isom, former St. Louis City police chief.
Chappelle-Nadal pointed out the confusion she found on the streets. "We don't even have rules of engagement while we're protesting; the rules are changing every single day and my question is how much of it is constitutional,” she asked.
St. Louis City Police Chief Sam Dotson said, "The shooting of Michael Brown brought the conversation to the forefront and it is tragic it took an event like that, but now that it is here let's have a real conversation about it."
Capt. Ron Johnson told the group he realizes the intent of police has not been well taken at times. He is eager to see a more diverse police force.
Attorney General Chris Koster said, "Our police departments have to be trusted allies."
Former St. Louis City Police Chief Dan Isom told the group, “When the confidence in our system breaks down we have chaos." Referring to the protestors he asked, “Is system legitimate to them, does it respect them, is it accountable, is it fair, is it just?"
St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley saw some positive discussion going on about race relationships and the area's policing community. "We've not resolved them but we've begun to talk about those challenges our community has."
Attorney General Koster plans to reconvene the panel in a month to finalize proposals that will go to the Missouri General Assembly to foster more diversity among law enforcement in urban areas. He plans a similar roundtable discussion in Kansas City on October 14.