PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Philadelphia Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw joined faith-based community leaders and the city's youth on Sunday to discuss the ongoing gun violence crisis.
"This is a great opportunity for something positive. A time to come together for fellowship and see the humans behind the badge today," said Commissioner Outlaw. "It's an opportunity to allow them to control the narrative, to let us know how they want to be seen and to also say, 'We need some help in these areas.'"
The intimate group addressed a number of topics and questions including safety, trust in police and discrimination.
The teens poured out their feelings and their point of view to the quiet and listening officers and leaders.
"Because of the stuff that goes on at home, it's like, I'm able to speak a little bit more. A lot of kids don't have a voice and people don't know that," said Kasheef Nash of West Philadelphia.
One teen shared his concern about only having negative interactions with police because he only sees them in his community when things are bad.
Commissioner Outlaw says she related to those experiences, sharing that her start of positive interactions with officers didn't begin until she was in high school.
"When we first walked in, they didn't want to smile, had their hoodies up. The hoodies are still on, but the masks are starting to come down. They are starting to open up more. That just doesn't happen, it happens over time. We have to keep at this," said Outlaw.
The community discussion was held during National Faith & Blue Weekend, which aims to facilitate safer and stronger communities by engaging law enforcement officers and local residents through the connections of faith-based organizations.
Reverend Markel Hutchins is the founder of the event. He says the goal is to facilitate safer and stronger communities by engaging law enforcement officers and local residents.
No topic was off limits.
"The tensions that we continue to see across the country that have grown over the last several years will not be undone. We can't solve problems if we don't converse with one another," said Reverand Hutchins.