GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.-A third in a series of community discussions aimed at stopping the violence in Grand Rapids took place Tuesday night at First Christian Reformed Church.
People attending “Coffee With Captain Payne” were pleasantly surprised by a whole panel of top cops along with Chief Kevin Belk. More than 100 people in to share their concerns and offer advice.
“If everybody in our community just steps up and does a little bit more, reaches out to the neighbor next door, the young person next door, the struggling neighbor then I think we can make a tremendous difference.” Chief Belk said.
For more than 2 hours, concerned citizens took the mic, either asking questions, giving some perspective or just asking for help as to what they can do to get ride of the violence. As Belk pointed out, it’s going to take more than the police department; it takes the community.
“It has put a strain on my relationship with the youths that I work with because they are unwilling and afraid to share a lot of the information that’s going on because I’m a court officer.” Juvenile Probation Officer Lynnell Talbert said. “How safe is Silent Observer because I do believe just in my work experience over 16, 17 years that when individuals commit crimes that they do share.” she added. She was reassured by Ruth Donahue with Silent Observer that it is completely anonymous. Donahue said that courts can not subpoena any of their records, calls are not recorded and neither are text messages.
As far as any new leads in the murders, Chief Belk said they have received a few.
Many of the community members had the same feeling; dealing with this issue starts at home and people need to speak up more about what they see and hear.
These discussions will continue throughout the month:
- Feb. 7: GR Ford Middle School, 851 Madison Ave. SE at 5:30p.m.
- Feb. 21: Members of the clergy will discuss congregational care and development, 618 Jefferson Ave. SE at 5:30p.m.
- Feb. 25-28: The Urban League will host a discussion on mental health during the evening, 747 Eastern Ave. SE