Tuscaloosa Mayor unveils “Project Unity” to bridge gap between police and community

Project Unity unveiled in Tuscaloosa

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (WBRC) - Over the past several weeks, Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox and Police Chief Brent Blankley along with community leaders, pastors, educators, and residents have been working on a plan to reimagine policing in the city.

Tuesday, Maddox unveiled that plan called “Project Unity” with a goal of helping to build a much stronger bridge between the city, police and the communities they serve. Maddox said after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis and the reaction to it nationwide, he wants police to establish meaningful relationships within the community.

“Through this and in this moment, I challenged our team and I’m challenging our city..we have done a lot but we can be more and do more,” Mayor Maddox said.

“Project Unity” creates two task forces. One of them is the ‘Chief’s Commission for Community Policing’ which will focus on recruiting, training, retention and community outreach. Maddox says he’s also plans to propose ordinances that protect police officers when it comes to interrupting or reporting abuse of another officer.

“We want to empower our police officers to let them know that…that is never acceptable and give them the protections they deserve to address it. We want to eliminate choke holds except in the instances of the necessity of deadly force needed by the officer,” Maddox said.

Maddox would also like to create a deputy chief for community policing position. That person will act as a liaison between TPD and residents. The other task force called the ‘Mayor’s Alliance for Opportunity and Advancement’ will focus on things like education, housing and revitalization, workforce development and youth sports.

The committee kick-off meeting is set for September 16. The mayor is giving the task forces until May of 2021 to come up with recommendations.

You can read more about Project Unity here

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