BY ABBEY CRANK
FOR THE OPELIKA OBSERVER
Change is coming, and Opelika residents welcome it with open arms. On July 1, Opelika Police Department’s community liaisons gathered on a Thursday evening for their first official meeting.
Opelika’s Police Chief Shane Healey and Capt. Tony Amerson explained that their main goal is to create a strong bond between the department and the community.
“We [the Opelika Police Department] need to do better at two things,” Healey said. “For one, listening … Second, we need to do a better job talking about what we do.”
This is where the selected liaisons come in; they are here to communicate issues within their wards and spread awareness of the police department’s involvement.
Each ward aims to have two community liaisons who will serve over the next three years:
Ward 1: Alexis Meniefield and Valestine Penn
Ward 2: Sherry Cook Welch and Oscar Penn
Ward 3: Michael Carter and Bobbi Yeo
Ward 4: Susan Clark
Ward 5: Robert Noles and Parker Hamilton as well as honorary liaison Thomas Sherfield.
“If we accomplish what we are talking about doing, we will change the world starting here,” Healey said.
The group will also work closely with Dr. Chenavis Evans from Critical Insights Consulting, LLC.
Not only should the liaisons look for ways to improve the community, Evans said it is also important to share citizen accomplishments.
“I hear a lot of great things that we’re doing, and we need to recognize our wards and people individually,” Evans said.
Capt. Amerson also explained he wants to have a city-wide event for all five wards within the first two years.
“It’d be like a melting pot,” Amerson said. “Everybody in the community is there … it’s the true representation of the city of Opelika.”
Liaisons are excited to be a part of the movement and ready to represent the city with integrity.
“I am for my community,” Meniefield said. “I have the ability to see both sides. I understand the police department’s perspective, and I can understand history.”
For Opelika to flourish, Hamilton stressed everyone needs to do their part.
“I know the government can’t do this alone,” Hamilton said. “It takes a community to work with the government in order to do what’s best for the residents.”
For upcoming meeting dates or more information, head over to the Opelika Police Department’s website www.opelika-al.gov/815/Police-Department or contact Capt. Amerson at firstname.lastname@example.org.