HIBBING, MN -- In July, the Hibbing Police Department created a new community task force to combat systemic racism.
Now, four months into the project, the task force is making progress toward bringing to community issues and creating a safe space to share opinions.
Hibbing Police Chief Steve Estey said he wants people to feel comfortable sharing their thoughts and concerns.
"People can't be afraid to step forward and say how they feel if something is bothering them or if something isn't right," Estey said. "Don't be afraid to step forward and voice your opinion and voice your concerns."
Initially called Anchoring the Blue, the group decided to change their name to be more inclusive.
"The group as a whole, everybody involved, decided we want to call it now: The Hibbing Task Force," Estey said.
The Hibbing Task Force has had around 10 meetings so far.
Estey said conversations were tough at first but are more relaxed now that members are comfortable with each other.
"They know that we're not there to judge anybody," he said. "They're entitled to their opinion and how they feel."
For all people to feel heard, the task force teamed up with a multiethnic group to help bridge the gap. They also received a grant for educational resources.
The task force hopes to remind the community it is okay to reach out for help.
"We want everybody involved in the community to feel like they are a part of the community," Estey said.
He said it is a stressful time for everyone, and a little bit of respect can go a long way.
As far as Hibbing police officer recruitment goes, Estey said the number of candidates applying is still down, but he is hopeful they will come back up soon.