COMMUNITY GROUP Citizen, police relations boosted

The group plans to make recommendations to the mayor.
WARREN -- A new community group is taking a different approach to helping improve relations between residents and city police.
The Community/Police Betterment Relations Group was organized with hopes of identifying barriers to effective police-community relations and finding ways to improve the department's image.
The group wants to get input from everyone, including students, business owners, teachers, prosecutors and law enforcement officers.
"We are not a group of complainers or whiners," the Rev. John Temple of North-Mar Church of the Christian & amp; Missionary Alliance, a member of the group, said during a Monday press conference held at the Rebecca Williams Center. "We want to hear what is in the hearts of the people."
The group was formed in the wake of a civil rights review by the U.S. Justice Department regarding Warren police practices and policies addressing strip-searches and the use of force.
The group plans to gather opinions and then make recommendations to the mayor and safety-service director. The group hopes to have its report ready by May.
The group is not city-sponsored and will make whatever recommendations they feel are necessary, group members said.
Sterling Williams, a business owner and member of the group, said the group will follow up to make sure the issues are addressed.
"We won't just forget about what we recommended. There will be teeth behind those recommendations," Williams said.
Councilman James Pugh, D-6th, told the group that he supports them.
"My concern is that you know that you can't solve a problem without addressing the problem, and there are a few bad officers that need to be dealt with," Pugh said.
The Rev. Mr. Temple said that the group plans to look at all issues.
"This is a new day in Warren," Mr. Temple said. "We have a new mayor, a new safety-service director and we want to make it a better place to live and work."