Representatives with the Texas Municipal Police Association stopped in Waco during a media tour Monday to voice their concern about police brutality, national protests and the state of law enforcement views across the state.

Deputy Executive Director Mitch Slaymaker and media coordinator Andrea Coker met with local media members as part of their 13-site tour that will continue across the state into the spring. Slaymaker, a retired Brownwood Police Department patrol sergeant, said incidents of true police brutality are rare, but citizens may reach a conclusion about incidents before a full investigation has been completed.

"We are trying to get the true narrative that surrounds not only law enforcement in Texas but also in the nation to combat the false narrative that has gone viral that police are nothing but jack-booted thugs and that police brutality is out of control," Slaymaker said. "There are things that are simply falsehoods.

"There are people who don't want to look at statistics, who don't want to look at the facts and don't want logic to play a part of the narrative."

According to a Bureau of Justice Statistics study of contact between police and the public, a total of 60,000 people were interviewed in 2008. About 1.4 percent of residents said the police used or threatened to use force against them during their most recent contact with police in 2008, and 74 percent of the people said police used or threatened force against them in 2008, which they felt was excessive.

"When it comes down to the end of the day, officers are a part of the community and it's a community they are sworn to protect," Slaymaker said. "There is nothing further from the truth that an officer wakes up for their day and decides that they want to get into a fight with someone, regardless of race or ethnicity."

Slaymaker said he encourages local law enforcement to speak with residents about their concerns and the roles police play in daily duties. He said an open dialogue can combat false narratives and keep a strong community conversation with police and residents.

Kristin Hoppa has been covering public safety and breaking news for the Tribune-Herald since January 2016. She worked in Northwest Missouri covering crime-related issues before her move to Central Texas. She is a University of Kansas graduate.

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