Grand Rapids pastors to meet about GRPD response involving young teens

Church leaders to touch on GRPD incident

GRAND RAPIDS, MICH. - Church leaders in Grand Rapids will be discussing a recent incident involving the police department that has gotten a lot of attention across the area.

The incident happened back on March 24 when GRPD officers were responding to a call regarding a potentially large fight outside the Salvation Army Kroc Center.

Officers told a group of five young teens to get on the ground, and held them at gunpoint, following a report of a fight at the Kroc Center, possibly involving 50 people.

The teens were heading home after a game of basketball but it's around that time that a witness told officers a group of young men was leaving the center and that one of them had a gun.

One officer saw some young teens who reportedly matched the description given. All of them were black, and last week their parents demanded an apology from police at a city commission meeting.

"We're not asking for much, we're just asking that our boys be apologized to. They were just walking down the street, going home," explained one mother.

Chief Rahinsky did apologize, but both police unions representing Grand Rapids officers say they were doing their jobs and following training, given the information they had.

"I apologize to the young men and their families," said Chief Rahinsky. "A sincere apology and an explanation that the officers involved were following up on specific information. The officers conducted themselves in a professional manner which resulted in a safe outcome for all," said Rahinksy.  

"What if one of our babies had made the wrong move and the wouldn't be here with us tonight? Would you be OK then with saying it was proper protocol?" asked another mother.

"All we ask is for something to be changed."

The Grand Rapids Association of Pastors say they lend an important voice at this moment. They'll be discussing the incident Thursday, April 20, from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Brown Hutcherson Ministries on Jefferson Avenue.

Leaders from several organizations will be there.

The presidents of both police unions released a joint statement saying that racial sensitivity and awareness training has been well received by officers but there are more steps necessary.

They say they are looking for ways to "expand our relationships in every part of Grand Rapids, especially areas where people are disenfranchised and somehow targeted."

Click here to read the entire statement.

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