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Difference Awards Day Luncheon hopes to help police-community relations

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Recent events around the country have sharpened the focus on police relations with minority communities. These events helped shape the topic of conversation at the Urban League of Kansas City's annual Difference Awards Day Luncheon.

"When a community has access to its leadership and people feel that they can be heard, it makes a huge difference," said Gwen Grant, the President of Urban League of Kansas City.

Grant said Thursday's annual Difference Awards Day Luncheon is about honoring service of community leaders and talking about issues that are prevalent in news today.

"Police racial profiling, police use of force, disparities in the administration of justice in the american justice system," Grant added, "There's something wrong when a justice system has a far different path for people of color than it does for the majority of the country."

With recent events around the country, community leaders wanted to have a solution-focused conversation about what works in police-community relations and what can be done to reduce disparities in police racial profiling and use-of-force.

"We need a dialogue, we have to work together, we're all in the same boat together," said attorney Benjamin Crump, who is one of the 2014 difference makers honored Thursday.  He's also the lead attorney for the parents of Michael Brown.

"Everybody has equal opportunities in America, everybody has equal justice in America," Crump said.

"When you look at some of the things that are happening around the country today, without those relationships in the community, prior to any incidents out in the community, you're not going to get anywhere, you have to have those relationships before anything happens, you have to start building trust," said Kansas City, Mo. Police Chief Darryl Forte, who is also one of the 2014 difference makers honored.

"When things like this, and emotions are involved like this, we need to pay attention, we need to be responsive to what the community is saying..whether it's real or perceived," Chief Forte said, "It's real to some people, it should be real to us."

About 600 people attended the annual Difference Awards Day Luncheon.