Mansfield Police Department Chief Keith Porch (Richland Source file photo)

MANSFIELD -- Police Chief Keith Porch said Thursday he will not be able to attend a Black/Brown Coalition community forum this evening, citing a misunderstood communication and the state's order against gatherings of more than 10 people.

Porch said coalition Director Wayne McDowell invited him to attend a coalition meeting Thursday at 6 p.m., a meeting the chief thought would be limited in size and at the North End Community Improvement Collaborative office.

"I thought it would be like the meetings I have attended with coalition members in the past," Porch said, adding he was surprised when he learned the meeting would be open to as many as 130 people at the Providence Baptist Church.

McDowell said the meeting was postponed and would be rescheduled at a later date, when meeting restrictions are modified or lifted.

As a representative of the City of Mansfield, Porch said, he cannot attend such a large gathering at this time, which was scheduled one day after Gov. Mike DeWine reminded residents in a statewide broadcast that such large gatherings are not permitted under his COVID-19 orders.

Porch said he is happy to discuss the Code of Conduct agreement between the city and the coalition reached in September, but said he could not discuss a pending case that involved Officer Jordan Moore and the arrest of two Mansfield residents on West Fourth Street on Oct. 12.

Moore is appealing the 60-day suspension he received after he dragged a handcuffed teenager during the incident, an appeal that will be decided by an arbitrator. Criminal cases against the teenager and an adult male are still pending in court, Porch said.

That incident, and the Code of Conduct, were topics discussed during a Black/Brown Coalition community forum on Oct. 23, also at Providence Baptist Church.

Porch said he would welcome an opportunity to speak at a coalition community forum when the state's restrictions on meeting sizes are lifted or modified. The chief spoke at such a meeting at North Lake Park in October 2019.

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City editor. 30-year plus journalist. Husband. Father of 3 grown sons and also a proud grandpa. Prior military journalist in U.S. Navy, Ohio Air National Guard. -- Favorite quote: "Where were you when the page was blank?"