GR Police participate in anti-violence effort

1:01 AM, Feb 6, 2013   |    comments
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Chief Kevin Belk, Grand Rapids Police Department

GRAND RAPIDS (WZZM) -- Grand Rapids Police Chief Kevin Belk says violent crime isn't just a police department problem -- it's everyone's problem.

"If you want a safe community everyone needs to participate," he said.

Chief Belk made his point to about 75 people at the second in a series of community conversations about violent crime in Grand Rapids.  Tuesday's event was held at First Christian Reformed Church, 636 Bates Street SE.

Six "Community Formation Action Dialogue Sessions" were organized following nine murders in the months of December and January.

The first session two weeks ago was for teenagers and young adults to discuss their concerns.  Tuesday night was dedicated to the police department.

"Do you have any ideas to get the guns out of their hands?" a woman asked the panel of command officers.

"Right now there is not a gun buy-back program." replied Chief Belk. "But anyone can contact the police department to turn in a gun and we will be happy to come and get it."

David Floyd suggested introductions to young prisoners serving life sentences might have an effect.

"Take these young African American males to prison and let them have one-on-one sessions with guys in for life who will never go to grandma's for Thanksgiving Dinner, never drive a car, never date a girl," he suggested. "Let them talk to those guys."

The next conversation in the "Stop It! Community Initiative" series is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Thursday February 7 in Gerald R. Ford Middle School at 851 Madison Avenue SE.  Members of the Black & Brown Leadership Forum are scheduled to attend.

"I believe in the meetings," says David Floyd. "But, at some point, we have to stop meeting and start doing."

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