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Community activists say path to change is multifaceted but has to start

"Let's take a look at what we're doing to see if there are some things we can improve."

JACKSONVILLE, Fla — Now that Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry has promised to introduce legislation addressing racial disparities, the community has questions like "What will it involve?" and "How long will it take for action?"

The community knows there are multiple paths to resolving the issue of racism.

"We do not need any more studies," said Pastor Mark Griffin.

Griffin has served on committees addressing social issues in the past and knows talking is one thing and doing is another.

"We have to move in a hurry, but we have to move methodically," said Griffin.

The mayor's direct power is in the city government, but with law enforcement, education, economic development and other areas, he becomes an influencer to change.

"There are multiple paths and I think everybody is on the same page that something needs to be done," he said.

Griffin and a group of faith leaders are calling for law enforcement to be more transparent. 

"There are some things that we need to address when it comes to law enforcement," he said.

The group, which speaks for many communities, believe that transparency will help weed out the bad actors and reveal the good police officers.

He said reform in the systemic infrastructure will help restore trust.

"Let's take a look at what we're doing to see if there are some things we can improve," said Griffin. "One of the low hanging fruits in our opinion is to improve in transparency."

Griffin is against the narrative of 'defunding the police;' he believes the institution is necessary. 

He acknowledges the police unions could become a challenge to meaningful change. Why they carry political clout and elected officials seeking another term will bend to their demands to earn their support.

The union for the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office rank and file is FOP350. On Your Side reached out to president Steve Zona for comment and did not get a response.

The Florida Fraternal Order of Police is watching events across the state.

"We will have a seat at the table," said Lisa Henning.

Henning said her office is now preparing a press kit stating the FOPs position on the issue of police reforms.

"We're not fighting the release of body cam footage, we have always support it, but we will tell you what is practical and what is not with an officer's job and his training," she said. 

Griffin said reform can be achieved if everyone comes to the table with the right heart.

"If none of us become defensive with some of these issues," said Griffin. "I think we will all come to the same conclusion that we need more transparency to build trust on both sides."

In the wake of George Floyd's death, the Minneapolis Police Department is making reforms. The police chief announced his department is withdrawing from police union contract negotiations as the first step in reforms to the agency.

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