The Greater Lansing Community came together Tuesday night in a public forum to talk about the use of deadly force in police incidents here and around the country.
Organizers say the goal of the forum wasn’t to find a solution to every problem but to get the city, the police and the community talking to further open the lines of communication.
“We are part of this community and we’re gonna be part of the solution.” Union Baptist Church was the place to be Tuesday night with the heads of several police departments, representatives of the city of Lansing and a sea of community members.
The goal? Simply to talk.
Lansing Chief of Police Mike Yankowski values this opportunity to talk. “This gives us an opportunity to explain to the citizens what we do on a day to day basis what rules and regulations and legislation that we have to follow as police officers and it gives them an opportunity to voice their concerns along the way”
This public forum is just one response to national headlines like the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson Missouri.
But recent events like Monday’s shooting in Lansing Township involving two police officers have brought national concerns close to home. And people put voice to those concerns. “We’d like for you to suspend someone without pay when they kill someone.” “Abuse of your power creates an unsafe environment for future police officers.”
Organizers say it’s important to create dialogue and be proactive about perceived problems.
DeLisa Fountain says, “It’s better to prevent anything from happening than it is for us to wait until a pot boils over.”
And Bishop Maxwell with the mayor’s office says it’s important the conversation continues. “This is just the beginning, you have to continue dialogue whenever you stop talking you have a problem, Lansing.”
At the request of President Obama the comments made during the public forum will be sent to the white house including opinions on body cameras and implicit bias training.
Organizers of the forum plan to have another one in the next thirty days.