Summary of the Justice Forum in Detroit
In the wake of the recent tragedies in Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Dallas; and St. Paul, Minnesota, Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch convened the first in a series of regional Justice Forums on Aug. 3, 2016, at Wayne State University in Detroit, with regional stakeholders from the law enforcement, youth, faith, non-profit and civil rights communities. The Attorney General, along with other department officials, hosted the Justice Forum to create a working group setting for local community leaders, youth advocates, law enforcement, and state and local officials to critically examine police-community issues in their respective cities and regions and seek solutions together. Attorney General Lynch was also joined by U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade of the Eastern District of Michigan, U.S. Attorney Patrick Miles of the Western District of Michigan, Assistant Attorney General Karol Mason of the Office of Justice Programs, head of the Civil Rights Division Vanita Gupta, Director Ron Davis of the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS Office), and Director Paul Monteiro of the Community Relations Service (CRS).
“Law enforcement agencies cannot provide effective policing without the trust of the communities they serve,” said U.S. Attorney McQuade. “The Justice Forum in Detroit gave stakeholders a chance to hear different perspectives, explain the challenges they face, and gain a deeper understanding for how police and community can work together to improve public safety and advance the cause of justice.”
During the working meeting, community members and stakeholders proposed ideas related to training and education, officer safety and wellness, community engagement, positive police-community encounters, diversity, data collection, crisis response, resources, transparency and officer accountability. Many of the ideas focused on strengthening the community from the ground up by building stronger ties between law enforcement and the community – including training for officers and the public on mental health, wellness, and implicit bias; promoting diversity in police departments to reflect their communities; better funding for public education; devoting more resources to community policing efforts; and engaging media to capture positive examples of police-community interactions.
In addition to the various policy ideas raised at the Detroit Justice Forum, below are a few examples demonstrating specific ways in which the local Detroit, Flint and Dearborn communities are working collaboratively to strengthen police-community relations and engagement.
Establish and support groups like ALPACT (Advocates and Leaders for Police and Community Trust), which bring together police and community stakeholders on regular basis to discuss police and community relations, promote community trust, and reduce tension. ALPACT has met on a regular basis for 15 years, and has provided a forum to discuss police-related shootings and other issues that test police and community relationships. The ongoing relationships between ALPACT members provide a trusting environment where tensions can be voiced and diffused.
For youth, create programs like the Michigan State Police Youth Leadership Academy, where young people can be exposed to careers in law enforcement and get to know police officers at a personal level as mentors.
Create more law enforcement-cultural awareness groups, similar to BRIDGES (Building Respect in Diverse Groups to Enhance Sensitivity), which is a partnership between law enforcement agencies and leaders in the Arab and Muslim American communities in the metro-Detroit region. BRIDGES meets quarterly to provide a forum to address issues of mutual concern and to foster better understanding on topics ranging from cultural sensitivity to hate crimes; from police and community relations to law enforcement policies and procedures.
The Justice Forum series will continue over the next several months in cities across the nation. And in the coming months, the Department of Justice will release a Justice Forum After-Action Report outlining the specific recommendations presented at the regional working group discussions. The After-Action Report will provide a rubric for other communities across the country that are seeking ways to help build sustained positive engagement between community members, law enforcement, elected officials and other local stakeholders.
Copied below is a list of invited organizations and speakers that presented at the Justice Forum in Detroit.
Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch
U.S. Attorney Barbara L. McQuade of the Eastern District of Michigan
Congressman John Conyers Jr. of the 13th District of Michigan
Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan
Detroit Police Chief James Craig
Dearborn Chief Ronald Haddad
Flint Police Chief Tim Johnson
Rev. Wendell Anthony, Detroit NAACP
Prosecutor Kym Worthy, Wayne County
Community leader Eva Garza DeWaelsche, SER Metro
Darnell Blackburn, Michigan Commission on Law Enforcement Standards
Marcell Payton, NSO Youth Initiative and MBK-Detroit
Michigan Commission on Law Enforcement Standards
Michigan Association Chiefs of Police
Skillman Foundation, My Brother’s Keeper Detroit
American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC)
New Starlight Baptist Church
Arab American Civil Rights League
Black Lives Matter
Grosse Pointe NAACP
Greater Grace Temple
Downtown Detroit Partnership
Neighborhood Services Organization
Wayne State University Center for Peace, Conflict Studies
Detroit Hispanic Development Corp.
Michigan Roundtable Diversity/Inclusion
Congress of Communities
Black Family Development
National Action Network
2nd Ebenezer Church
American Civil Liberties Union
Sinai Hospital Trauma Intervention
High School and College Students