GRPD Chief talks racial tension with community members

Posted at 10:23 PM, Dec 03, 2014
and last updated 2014-12-03 22:36:38-05

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- The Greater Grand Rapids NAACP organized a forum at Baxter Community Center Wednesday evening to open a conversation between community members and law enforcement.

"I just wish somebody would tell America, black folk are not the enemy. We are not the enemy," said Cle Jackson of the NAACP.

The NAACP is calling the community sessions “The Journey for Justice, Rights, Responsibilities and Reform."

Grand Rapids Police Chief David Rahinsky answered questions from the public, including their concerns over racial profiling within the African American community.

The group voiced concerns over the low amount of minority officers within the Grand Rapids Police Department, with many saying the police force must look like the community they represent.

Chief Rahinsky said that over the past few years, with a competitive job market, more police applicants have higher qualifications, such as advanced degrees. That’s something Rahinsky said might play a factor when it comes to finding eligble minority officers.

On the issue of body cameras, the NAACP is calling for a pilot program to test body cameras within the city of Grand Rapids.

The Grand Rapids Police Department also said that the number of complaints against officers by members of the public are significantly lower this year than in years past. The chief said that is a step in the right direction.

The NAACP asked for people to sign their online petition seeking justice for Michael Brown and Eric Garner.

The NAACP also said that they are asking for a review of Michigan’s 'Stand Your Ground' and racial profiling laws.