Local police address national issues in letter to public


WYOMING, Mich. (WOOD) — A group of Grand Rapids-area law enforcement officials, in an open letter to the public, are addressing the national issues facing police and the communities they serve.

The letter is signed by 12 Grand Rapids-area police leaders, including Wyoming Public Safety Director James Carmody.

>>Kent County Chiefs of Police letter (pdf)

It addresses the outpouring of support from the public following the murders of officers in Dallas, Baton Rouge and Berrien County.

“Letters, notes, cards from kids, people stopping the officers on the street — of all genders, or all ethnicity, thanking the officers telling them that they do appreciate them,” said Carmody.

It also addresses law enforcement’s reaction to the scenes of protest over the death of black men at hands of officers elsewhere in the country.

“Letting people know that up until these things have occurred we have been doing nothing is a false narrative,” Carmody said.

The letter was Carmody’s idea, who expressed the frustration shared by many of his colleagues in law enforcement these days.

It was signed by 12 law enforcement leaders from state police, the Kent County Sheriff’s Department, Grand Rapids police to police in the suburbs — including Kentwood, Wyoming, Grandville, Rockford, East Grand Rapids, Sparta, Sand Lake and along with Grand Rapids Community College Police Department.

“To suggest that because I put a police uniform on, regardless of my gender or my ethnicity, somehow I become a villain. That’s being promoted across the country. Yes, it kind of cuts to the heart.” says Carmody.

“It’s easy to take the lens of national news and turn it with the same focus on West Michigan. But we have taken steps through proactive community outreach and other initiatives to address issues that other communities are only now starting to discuss,” quotes the letter. “We have worked in concert with one another, an approach that has allowed us to lower the crime rate over the years and keeping it relatively low, all while treating people with dignity and respect.”

“Outlining the measures we have taken does not mean we think the job is done. We know this is a constant process and will expand on these efforts to ensure we are doing our police work from the standpoint of understanding,” also from the letter.

Carmody says it will take time to fix the issues that divide police from the community they serve, but the path is a two way street.

“We have to do this together. This isn’t something just the cops can fix. Just the government can fix. We have to work together in a positive manner,” said Carmody. “Throwing stones at each other’s not going to accomplish anything.”

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