County, City Leaders Educating the Public About Their Rights

County, City Leaders Educating the Public About Their Rights

by Justin Kree

NewsWest 9

ODESSA -  Community leaders can all agree that communication is key. After Thursday night's community safe meeting, they are hoping the public can be more proactive.

"I think working together with the public, we can solve some of these problems. Preventing things from happening like they did in Ferguson and New York is our goal," Ector County District Attorney, Bobby Bland, said.

There is a debate of excessive use by police officers around the country, city and county officials wanted to get the public involved to know and understand their rights as citizens.

"This is an opportunity to make sure that if something like that were to happen, then there wouldn't be that lack of trust in the system and in law enforcement," Bland said.

A series of workshops will take place after the first of the year. Anything from knowing your miranda rights, to knowing what will happen when police search your car or home. Riding along with Odessa Police will also give a first hand look into how the department handles everyday traffic stops.

"That's why we're offering ride-along's, to help improve that relationship and help build that trust," Odessa Police Sergeant, Steve LeSueur said.

If you're being arrested, you should still comply, even if you think it's wrong.

"Officers make mistakes, sometimes they cross the line and that's something that has to be reviewed later on. If you want your rights respected, you have to comply initially. That's the way the system is set up and that's what the law says" Bland said.

Police tell NewsWest 9 that there is something you can do if you're being arrested.

"The person should comply. If they feel that their rights are being violated, they can call for a supervisor right then and there," LeSueur said.

Overall, these proactive workshops are put in place to bind that divide between police and the community.

"It's important that there is a trust between the police department and the citizens of Odessa. That's ultimately what our goal is," LeSueur said.

"If a situation like Ferguson or New York City were to happen, we'll all be ready and we can deal with each other in a peaceful way," Bland said.

The workshops begin January 15, 2015 and will go through May.