GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Amid protests of police brutality towards black people in America, an advisory council to improve relations between the police and community in Grand Rapids is being criticized by community leaders.
"What's new?" said Cle Jackson, president of the Greater Grand Rapids NAACP. "How would that look different [and] advance immediate reforms we need to see in local law enforcement agencies?"
At a Grand Rapids City Commission meeting Tuesday, June 2, officials announced the upcoming creation of a community police advisory council put together by the police department and the office of oversight and public accountability (OPA).
Despite the state of civil emergency, the council will be formed by June 6, said Brandon Davis, director of the OPA.
"It's important that we note the outrage expressed by our community and the hurt felt by them," Davis said. "As a black man, seeing the murder of black men at the hands of police is disheartening. It's important we get this done quickly and not lose the momentum of this moment."
The Grand Rapids Police Department already received around 150 recommendations from prior task forces and studies that leadership can implement, said Jeremy DeRoo, executive director of the community development nonprofit LINC UP.
"The time that we are in right now calls for rapid implementation of changes to GRPD," DeRoo said. "My concern is that the list of recommendations right now is about preparing for change, and we've done enough preparation."
Davis, who assumed his role in the OPA last month, said the council's job will be to look at those recommendations and why some have not been implemented.
"I respect the fact that there have been a lot of meetings and conversations and there are questions about the amount of action that came from that," he said. "I am making the commitment to have action steps to follow through."
The protests in the streets are not just about community and police relationships, but systemic and institutional racism in our country, Jackson said.
"This is about our economic instability, our educational, healthcare and criminal justice instability," he said. "It's about all of those things. We cannot allow others to slip under the dark and say, 'Well this is not about us.'"
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