A consortium of law enforcement agencies at the local, state and federal levels were in attendance at a town hall meeting at Fellowship Chapel on Detroit’s northwest side. The focus was on how to build better relationships between communities and police agencies. Rev. Wendell Anthony, head of the Detroit Branch NAACP and pastor of Fellowship Chapel, was moderator.
“We do not have to live the way were living. A few folk make a majority folk feel they’re under siege,” Anthony said. “It’s a together process. Its not ‘I go, you go,’ it’s ‘we go.’”
U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade introduced the Comprehensive Violence Reduction Partnership (CVRP) to the audience.
“Back in May we had rash of crimes, the shooting and murder of a police officer, the death of a 7-year-old girl, shooting of 69-year-old grandmother,” said McQuade.
“We want to improve the quality of life in Detroit,” she continued. “We recognize that law enforcement resources out just won’t solve the problem. We need to work with the community, not against the community, if were going to solve these problems together.
“We have several components. One is prevention. Preventing youth from committing crime. We need everyone here to be in neighborhood patrols, to be block captains and provide us with tips when crimes happen.”
Special Agent Tom Brandon of the U.S. Department of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, said, “This department has been working diligently to get dangerous weapons and contraband off the streets to improve the quality of life for Detroiters.”
Detroit Police Chief Ralph Godbee said, “The department wants to reduce crime but we don’t want to do it at the expense of disrespecting our community. Any person that thinks that’s a soft way of policing, they’re totally misguided.”
In addition to the agencies whose representatives spoke, the U.S. Marshal’s Service, the FBI, the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the Drug Enforcement Administration, and the Wayne County Sheriff’s were also represented at the forum.
Several citizens in the audience had questions for the law enforcement representatives, one being the parent of teenager shot in Detroit last year.
“I am one of the parents of one of the seven kids shot at the bus stop. Me as a parent, what can I do or say to make my child feel safe? Most kids don’t trust cops,” whose name was not given.
McQuade said the people in the community yearn for better public safety and in finding out how they can get involve.
“If the communities, particular the youth, feel more scared than safe, when they see a police officer it’s our job to remedy that.”
McQuade said she refuses to accept the alarming crime statistics that have become commonplace in Detroit.
“President Obama quoted Fredrick Douglass, saying ‘We are not prisoners of our fate. We have the ability to bend history in the direction of justice,’” said McQuade.