ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. – Members of various Islamic organizations met with St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Wesley Bell and members of his office Monday. The meetings are part of an ongoing community outreach program launched by Bell and his office.
The Community Case Review is an opportunity for varying groups and members of the public to learn more about how law enforcement functions. It’s also a learning opportunity for members of law enforcement as they hear directly from community members about their concerns.
“I think that we’ve been able to answer a lot of questions,” said Bell.
His office has hosted several meetings, some with various groups and others with the general public. Bell plans on holding more meetings on at least a monthly basis. Anyone wanting to participate can request more information by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Some of the questions raised by those who attended Monday’s meeting included how the prosecutor’s office can help make St. Louis safer, how to access crime data that could better identify crime solutions, and what role the prosecutor’s office can play in helping Afghan refugees.
Bell believes the engagement helps bridge divides between law enforcement and the public.
“We want to start building those bridges between the community and law enforcement and the prosecutor’s office,” said Bell.
Captain Clay Farmer, with Bell’s office, helped launch the program. He said some of the misconceptions about law enforcement have risen from television programs.
“We can’t solve a quadruple homicide because of DNA from a leaf that’s sucked up in a vacuum cleaner,” he said.
Clay said the meetings provide the public an opportunity to hear directly from those involved with the legal process.
Nauman Wadalawala is the general secretary for the Islamic Foundation of Greater St. Louis. He attended Monday’s meeting and is hopeful the dialogue will continue.
“To have someone who is willing to reach out to the community just breaks a lot of barriers down,” he said.