Addressing police reform in the Rio Grande Valley

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RIO GRANDE VALLEY, Texas (KVEO) —Across the nation communities are calling for a police reform, and in the RGV, African American community leaders have ideas on how law enforcement could ensure that all citizens are safe.

Co-founder of Village in the Valley, Marsha Terry explains how she has heard hearsay of racial profiling and although the problems in the RGV are not like other places in the U.S., it is still a problem.

Terry said that one of those problems is police perception.

“A police trooper pulled over a car in the sideline in a roadway, my son peered out the window and his first response was ‘someone is about to get shot’ and I was like ‘wow where did you get that from’,” said Terry. 

 Co-founder of Village in the Valley Dr. Theresa Gatling and Terry said that the perception of police can change through strengthening relationships between the community and police.

George McShan, former board member of Harlingen Consolidated Independent School District said that the change starts with training.

“We need to make sure that we have training not only in policing but in the African American culture,” said McShan. 

Village in the Valley, also known as ViVa, aligned with The Illumination Project, to better help the relationship with law enforcement. 

“The Illumination project was birthed to help communities have [a] better police relationship…and help to have better dialogue between the police and the community,” said Terry. 

Pharr Police Chief Andy Harvey said that transparency helps keep everyone safe, including reviewing police body cam footage, especially when it is a police-citizen incident. 

“Now, there’s a lot of them that happen so we make sure that the officers are abiding by policy and good practices,” said Chief Harvey. 

He added that if Pharr PD does make a mistake, they will own up to it. 

“I’m a firm believer that when we mess up, we fess up and then we clean up and then we move forward and be better, but being transparent is key to that,” said Chief Harvey. 

Chief Harvey explained that the police department has one key component for every citizen, no matter the color.  

“People want the same thing, people want to be treated with fairness, dignity and respect and the fairness part really applies to the openness and transparency,” said Chief Harvey. 

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