Citizens share concerns with Muskegon-area cops

The "Straight Talk: Cops and Community" event. (April 29, 2015)

MUSKEGON HEIGHTS, Mich. (WOOD) — Protests and riots over actions taken by police are becoming too commonplace in our nation.

“We are so different from those other places, but yet we’re so alike,” Muskegon Director of Public Safety Jeff Lewis said.

Wednesday night, the Muskegon and Muskegon Heights police departments came together to give citizens a chance to share their concerns. The idea was to try to prevent the problems seen in other parts of the country from happening here.

The “Straight Talk: Cops and Community” meeting put on by the Muskegon Rotary Club — the first of its kind in Muskegon County — used a new approach regarding the problems between communities and police. Instead of speaking at the public and then taking questions, police and community members talked with each other.

Muskegon Director of Public Safety Jeff Lewis at the "Straight Talk: Cops and Community" event. (April 29, 2015)
(Muskegon Director of Public Safety Jeff Lewis at the event.)

“It was so great to see the law enforcement personnel come out and just sit down and even pull us aside and say, ‘Hey, let’s talk what are you concerned about,'” said Norton Shores mom Teresa Taylor-Williams. “That was great.”

Williams says with everything happening, she’s worried about her two teenage sons interacting with police.

“All it takes is a flip attitude,” she said.

She brought her sons with her to the meeting. The three talked with law enforcement about what to do in a traffic stop situation, careers in law enforcement and unrelated topics like sports.

“I like how they taught us stuff,” said Williams’ 14-year-old son Terin. “I definitely know a bit more now that I came and I’m glad I came.”

Though the boys were apprehensive about coming, they said they now feel more comfortable around police.

“They’re just people, like the rest of us,” said Williams’ other son Marcus, 18.

Wednesday’s forum was part of an ongoing series.

“The fact that these forums will continue gives me a lots of hope,” his mother said.

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