COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – Franklin County neighbors helped law enforcement tackle community issues at a conference held on Saturday.
Dozens of agencies joined county organizations and everyday citizens during the inaugural Franklin County Sheriff’s Office Community Safety Conference at the Columbus State Workforce Development Building.
“We don’t often get together to train and talk and discuss issues affecting the community as a group,” Franklin County Sheriff Dallas Baldwin said of his office and partner agencies.
The all-day event included time for networking, panel discussions, 18 breakout workshops and more than 20 booths explaining community resources.
Topics spanned crime prevention, the opioid epidemic, human trafficking and community-police relations.
The conference also included K9 and SWAT demonstrations, as well as a family-friendly ‘touch-a-truck’ event for an up-close look at official vehicles.
“We’re also bringing the community on board, too. Now, community and law enforcement are all working together, all learning from each other,” said Napoleon Bell, the outreach and engagement manager at the sheriff’s office who helped create the conference.
Bell explained the goal of the conference was not only to share information but also to present different perspectives.
“It’s breaking down those barriers, it’s building trust, it’s helping to understand that law enforcement are people, too,” he said. “But then it also gives law enforcement the opportunity to interact in a great environment with the community.”
Baldwin added the collaboration can help improve overall safety.
“Our goal is to really respond the best we can. We can’t do it if we don’t know what their issues are and we can’t do it alone. It’s got to be a partnership,” Sheriff Baldwin said.
The sheriff’s office called the inaugural event a success and hopes to make it an annual conference.