GR city, race leaders meet to discuss police-community relations

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — In light of the recent violence, Grand Rapids police are addressing their strategy for potential protests.

Grand Rapids Police Chief David Rahinsky stressed the importance of building relationships at a press conference Friday afternoon.

City leaders first expressed thoughts to the families of the officers killed in Dallas.

“This has been an unbelievably tragic and painful week for our country and our community,” said Mayor Rosalynn Bliss.

“Our condolences definitely go to all of the officers in Dallas — their families, their friends. I personally have family members who are a part of law enforcement and I could not even imagine if I were to get a call like that,” said Jackson.

It was about having an open dialogue police relations not only in Grand Rapids but across the country.

“This is an issue of humanity when somebody can look in the face of another human being and say ‘I want to kill you or murder you because of the color of your skin, your sexual orientation or your gender.’ That is just not right,” said Cle Jackson, NAACP Grand Rapids Chapter president.

Jackson said the racial tension is an issue of humanity — it’s an institutional and systematic problem.

“For black people and brown people, how do we double up and protect ourselves from being stopped and allegedly for having a broken tail light? How are we going to double up and protect ourselves,” said Jackson.

GRPD is doubling up on units after five officers were killed and seven others injured in Dallas. A lieutenant with Grand Rapids police told 24 Hour News 8 that they would have two officers together instead of one following orders from the deputy chief.

“To Cle’s point, we want a specific — perhaps a misrepresentation or a misexplanation, if you will — regarding the officers doubling up. Just as those in this room feel emotionally drained from the events of the last three or four days, so too do our officers,” said Rahinksy.

Rahinsky says this is not an issue that should be dividing, but rather uniting us.

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