BOISE -- There's a push in the Treasure Valley to improve the relationship between community members, and those who protect them.
It's an issue that's sparked controversy nationwide - how police and the public get along. This week the Department of Justice is holding hundreds of forums on the topic across the country, including one in Nampa.
This is National Community Policing Week and brings the hotly-debated issue to the forefront. Now, from the U.S. Attorney in Idaho to Boise Police offices on the street, there's a clear message - to do everything possible to get those on both sides of the badge, on the same page.
Officers like Boise Police Cpl. Brek Orton says he depends on the relationship they've already built with the community when he arrives at a scene.
"We can't effectively do our jobs if we don't have the community's support and trust," said Orton.
Orton works on campus at Boise State University and helps educate students and the public on his mission every day. He hopes his interactions, whether on the clock or off, will build a strong connection.
"If they can look at us like a human being and not an as an officer or a robot in a uniform, it's a lot easier for them to put themselves in our shoes and understand exactly what it is we deal with on a daily basis," said Orton.
Idaho U.S. Attorney Wendy Olson says Wednesday night Orton will be one of 14 honored as examples of those improving the interactions between police and the public.
"It's absolutely essential to lay the groundwork and make sure that police officers and members of the community have a chance to interact and understand each others' perspectives," said Olson.
Olson says they will also host an open discussion about how to build a better relations and will talk about big issues like transparency and body worn cameras.
"We will hopefully identify some solutions as well there is improved technology, improved training, I think we want to have a good discussion on issues like implicit bias, and how police officers or really anybody react to a certain set of stimuli," said Orton.
Wednesday's event will be held at the Nampa Campus Academic Building, second floor atrium, 5500 E. Opportunity Drive. The public is welcome to attend.
Both Olson and the U.S. Marshal Service for the District of Idaho will participate in the community policing forum hosted by the College of Western Idaho. It will be held from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m.
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