Police work and the role law enforcement plays in our communities are under the microscope, creating scrutiny and debate that are especially intense in today’s highly connected world.
As leaders of law enforcement in Kent County, we want to address some of the issues that have surfaced in recent weeks. We feel compelled to do this because we care about our communities, and we care about our interactions with the citizens we proudly serve.
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. 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.
We have achieved these results by investing in education and training that have allowed our departments to address some of the concerns about racial inequity and fair treatment. We have worked hard to be inclusive in our hiring and sensitive in our training, learning de-escalation tactics to limit troubling scenarios and gaining knowledge about the different needs of our diverse populations so our interactions come from a better place of understanding.
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.
While we in law enforcement have been shaken by events in Dallas, Berrien County and Baton Rouge in recent days, we also have been heartened by the outpouring of kindness we have seen from our citizens.
For all of this and more, we, in turn, say thank you. It is our privilege to serve our citizens. Our commitment is to provide quality law enforcement services every day and to work well together so we can maintain the level of trust we have earned in the community.
Police Chiefs of Kent County