Better East Texas: Events in Ferguson an opportunity for dialogue

Better East Texas: Events in Ferguson an opportunity for dialogue

The recent events in Ferguson, Missouri are a tragedy. A police officer shot and killed an unarmed teen and demonstrations have turned violent.

The issue of race relations has surfaced once again and reasonable voices on all sides have had to step back and answer the question, "How far have we really come in America?"

The events in Ferguson could be in any smaller city across the land - some here in east Texas. In fact, there are several recent cases of deaths where race may have played or may be found to have played a factor. So the underlying message is that some citizens don't trust law enforcement on the front of fair treatment and law enforcement is under extreme pressure to make instant decisions in life or death situations. The pressure has probably never been higher, at least in recent decades. But there is opportunity in this for local law enforcement and community and neighborhood leaders.

The opportunity is for these groups to open dialogue now and regularly in the future to build trust. East Texas law enforcement leaders need to aggressively reach out and get the conversation going. Community leaders need to be equally aggressive to help birth this exchange. It is the only way to build a relationship and prevent, or at least lower, the possibility that what is happening in Ferguson could happen here. I hope these groups will seize the opportunity and that will make for a Better East Texas.