A news conference sponsored by a religious organization that called for equitable community policing began, and ended, in prayer. Quad-Cities Interfaith, a coalition of clergy and faith leaders, sponsored the event Thursday at United Neighbors, Davenport.

Faith leaders called for more communication and understanding between law enforcement officers and residents, including those of different races.

"We are acting for the common good," the Rev. Clark Olson-Smith said.

Olson-Smith of All Saints Lutheran Church, Davenport, chairs the faith leaders caucus for the interfaith organization.

Bias and racism undermine efforts for a just and loving community, he said.

Olson-Smith said that "terrible" events between law enforcement and minorities are playing out across the United States and that local clergy don't want to experience a similar incident here. 

The Rev. Jimmie Horton of Gospel Temple Mission in Davenport called for the community to "come together to make a difference."

Horton grew up in the segregated South, where he said police were a negative presence. But times have changed, and Horton said his brother is now a chief of police.

Issues remain, Horton said, but the roots of these problems lie in unemployment and lack of education. The biggest concerns can be addressed with the help of God, he added.

Police and clergy should work in collaboration, the Rev. Jay Wolin said. The minister at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of the Quad-Cities, Davenport, said police should examine their own racial biases.

The Rev. Ralph Kelly of First Baptist Church, Davenport, and Larry Roberson of the NAACP, Davenport, noted common cause among police and residents. All people are human and need to be treated that way, said Roberson, a former member of the Davenport School Board.

Olson-Smith, the event moderator, said Quad-Cities Interfaith has contacted police departments in Davenport, Bettendorf, Moline and Rock Island.

"We are starting opportunities for conversations," he said, adding the goal is to build relationships.

Bettendorf Police Chief Phil Redington said his officers have a good working relationship with Quad-Cities Interfaith. He is aware of the group's initiative and added, "We look forward to working with them in the future."

The event began with a prayer from Janet Collins, deaconess at Fresh Start Faith Center, Davenport. It ended with a blessing from the Rev. Christine Isham of Edwards Congregational United Church of Christ, Davenport.

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