Police work to build positive relationships with community - WNEM TV 5

Police work to build positive relationships with community

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FLINT, MI (WNEM) -

With unrest across the country regarding police involved shootings, local police are trying to build positive relationships with their community.

Police in Mid-Michigan are trying to bridge the gap between their departments and the communities they serve to promote positive relationships.

Flint police sat down with community members Wednesday morning for a fellowship breakfast.

"Any time you can talk to people in the community that you have not yet met, it's a good thing," Flint Police Capt. Collin Birnie said.

The meeting was designed to be an exchange of dialogue to ease tensions and speak on solutions that will benefit Flint from an array of police violence on unarmed black men that has taken the headlines in many cities recently.

"That is the hope for us to say that enough is enough. Here in Flint we try to be on the front end so that we don't have to see those things happening," said Rev. Jeffery Hawkins, pastor at Prince of Peace Missionary Baptist Church.

Hawkins knows about gun violence all too well. Two of his songs fell victim to the streets on two separate occasions. Although it wasn't at the hands of police, he's committed to cleaning up any unnecessary loss of life.

"The death of my son made me angry, but it didn't make me bitter. It made me angry enough to say let me do something about this. And we don't want to see this happen to any other family or any other child," Hawkins said. "I believe if we come together and improve relationships to be able to sit down and break bread with communities and law enforcement continues to build those relationships so we don't have to keep seeing this stuff happen over and over again."

For that reason Birnie is grateful for the meeting because it's another example that he and his fellow officers have something special in Flint.

"Thankful that we have the relationship we do with our community and of course there is always room for improvement. There always is and that's what today is about," Birnie said.

Genesee County Sheriff Robert Pickell has a theory on what happened in both Charlotte and Tulsa. He believes a failure by police officials to act has led to the escalation of violence across the country.

"Being a police officer you have so much power, so much authority. You have more power than a Supreme Court Justice because I can snatch your freedom away from you in a second where a Supreme Court Justice has to write a court order to do anything. And that's why we have to have people who are well-trained and understand the human interaction with people," Pickell said.

LeCretia Roscoe, resident, said the recent acts of violence are troubling.

"Police are supposed to be there to help us and when we're obeying the laws and the rules then we should not be gunned down. We shouldn't be hurt if we're obeying the rules," Roscoe said.

She attended an impromptu meeting with Michigan State Police Trooper William Smith. Smith is the community service trooper with MSP's Tri-City Post.

"We're doing everything that we can in our power to get to our communities and make sure that that trust and that relationship is there. So if we do approach you on a traffic stop, you know 'oh hey, that's Trooper Smith. I know him,'" Smith said.

He said he believes there are great residents throughout the Great Lakes Bay Region.

"If you look in the city of Saginaw, crime rates have declined over the last 10 years. It's not just because we're locking more people up. It's because we're working together as a community and we're identifying problems and we're taking action on those problems together," Smith said.

As for Roscoe, she said she has faith in the men and women behind the badge.

"I believe I obey the rules and I believe our police will try to do what is right because they see what's going on around the world," she said.

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