By Erica Thomas, managing editor
BIRMINGHAM — During a regular meeting on Tuesday, July 7, 2020, the Jefferson County Commission discussed how law enforcement relationships within communities could be improved.
After discussing the tragic death of 8-year-old Royta Giles, Jr., at the Riverchase Galleria, Councilor Sheila Tyson said county and city leaders must come together to help children and young people learn better conflict-resolution strategies.
“We need to come together on the conflict resolution that we are having,” said Tyson. “I don’t think it’s being addressed.”
Hoover Police said the shooting on July 3 happened after an argument between a group of males. Giles was an innocent bystander. Three others were also injured.
Tyson said she would like to see law enforcement agencies in the county getting more involved with programs such as youth games and maybe bringing back events like the Toy Bowl.
“All of that is just leaving our community,” Tyson said.
“We used to have police-sponsored games,” said Commission President Jimmie Stephens. “What we need to do is not defund the police, but let’s work to change their engagement with the community back to where it was at the Toy Bowl.”
Stephens said county and city leaders must come together to improve involvement with youth.
“We do need to have a concerted effort to let this youth know we do care,” said Stephens. “There ain’t no way you can carry an AR-15 in your backpack to the Galleria and say, ‘Oh I’m just going to have a good time.”
Stephens said he would like to challenge the sheriff’s office and local municipalities to work more within their communities.
“That goes back to the education and helping us to raise these kids,” Stephens added.