(Memphis) City officials, police, fire and other departments want to improve their relationships with one another, so a communications meeting was held Tuesday at City Hall.
Moderators began the meeting by establishing a set of ground rules for city leaders, such as be respectful and be good listeners.
Mayor A C Wharton said, given the council's tendency to talk over one another, that was the perfect place to start.
Meeting moderators said breakdowns in communication can ultimately lead to important issues being delayed for cities.
"In some cases we talk around each other or we are not being honest with each other," one moderator said. "With this exercise, they can learn to be better at dialoguing and prioritizing the work for the city."
Mayor Wharton said he believes the time to come together is now.
"Is this the end all be all? Absolutely not, but the longest journey starts with just the first two steps," he said.
In naming what they believe our topics most important to Memphis, city leaders found many of them have the same priorities, such as public safety, security for our children and decreasing unemployment.
Memphis Police Director Toney Armstrong said, "We have different ways of reaching our desired goals, but I think at the end it shows we all want the same things."
However, some believe personal agendas and politics are bound to get in the way of decision-making.
"That's reality," Mayor Wharton said. "That's all over America."
It is just the first step, but Mayor Wharton said better relationships will ultimately lead to a better community.
"It is not a, 'Boy, we had one meeting and we corrected everything.' But you have to start somewhere, and I think this is a doggone good place to start."
Mayor Wharton said he is pleased with the outcome of the meeting, although city leaders still have a long way to go in improving communications.