Onslow Co forum creates open dialogue between students, officers

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ONSLOW COUNTY, N.C. (WNCT)–A youth and law enforcement forum brought together Onslow County students and law enforcement agencies to discuss their concerns and answers questions about local policing.

The 2nd annual Youth and Law Enforcement Forum provided about 100 students from across the county with a safe environment to ask questions. On hand were six local agencies including the Onslow County Sheriff’s Office, Swansboro, Richlands and Jacksonville police departments, the Highway Patrol and Camp Lejeune Police.

Students started the day with a Q&A session. Many of them asked questions about the drug epidemic, police brutality, and the difference between when a warning versus a citation is issued.

“Getting others’ opinions and perspectives really helps me form my opinions on how I perceive things as well,” Corryn Barnes, a senior at Richlands High School, said.

After the Q&A, students broke out into smaller groups with members of law enforcement for more intimate discussions on social media’s role in police relations and traffic stops.

“It helps them understand where we are coming from and we can give them feedback,” Chief Ron Lindig, Richlands Police, said. “We can learn a lot just from a lot of communication.”

Many students and officers alike said they appreciated the risk-free environment where they could ask honest questions and receive honest answers.

“We have to communicate and we have to keep two-way communication open,” Sheriff Hans Miller said. “We have to build a level of trust.”

The students who attended will take what they learned back to peers at their high schools.

“I’m going to take it back to my school and talk to my peers and my soccer team to see what more we can do as a group,” Bradley Bizzell, a senior at Dixon High School, said.

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