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NAACP hosts open forum with Huntsville law enforcement

The conversation touched on open carry laws, body camera footage and officer training.

Posted: Jan. 22, 2019 10:22 PM
Updated: Jan. 23, 2019 10:31 AM

Jerry Burnet, president of the Huntsville Madison County NAACP chapter, told WAAY 31 Tuesday's forum was a response to the deadly mall shooting that happened in Hoover on Thanksgiving.

"Hopefully we can prevent something such as that from happening here in Huntsville," Burnet said.

The local NAACP chapter organized the forum in hopes of being proactive against gun violence.

"If you know better, you can conduct yourself better," Burnet said.

Burnet, other NAACP members and people in the community packed out a room in city hall to pick the brains of local law enforcement officers. Officers with the Huntsville Police Department, the Madison County Sheriff's Office and Mayor Tommy Battle were there to answer questions.

"It seems to be a lack of knowledge when people are caught in a situation. They need to know what to do," NAACP member Cornell Martin said.

The conversation touched on open carry laws, officer body camera footage and how officers are trained. Questions about concealed carry permits also came up, a topic not everyone in the room could agree on.

"If I think I needed to carry a gun, then there would be no need for police officers," Burnet said.

"I think carrying a gun is always helpful if you know what you're supposed to do and what you're not supposed to do," Martin said.

Burnet said he hopes that those who do choose to carry do it the right way.

"If they carry them, they know when to pull it out. What is the purpose? Use it to protect yourself," Burnet said.

Lt. Michael Johnson with the Huntsville Police Department said he thought the forum went well and there were even some one-on-one questions after it ended.

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