U.S. Attorney Miles Addresses Community Engagement At Annual Meeting Of Chiefs Of Police
GRAND RAPIDS, MICHIGAN — U.S. Attorney Patrick Miles spoke today at the Michigan Association of Chiefs of Police Summer Professional Development Conference held at Boyne Highlands in Harbor Springs, Michigan. On the 21st Century policing panel, which also included local law enforcement police chiefs, U.S. Attorney Miles addressed the need for law enforcement to engage community members to avoid situations that occurred in Ferguson, Missouri and Baltimore, Maryland.
Specifically, U.S. Attorney Miles’s comments focused on the importance of outreach and communication to build relationships and trust with community leaders. "Law enforcement and the communities they serve share the same goals, namely peace, security, and safety," he noted. But tensions between law enforcement and the communities they serve can arise because of a lack of communication, relationships and mutual understanding, he explained.
U.S. Attorney Miles emphasized that the definition of community leader has changed and expanded. "Teens and young adults with a large social media following can reach and influence thousands of people just like a senior minister can with a congregation. Law enforcement leaders must engage those in the millennial generation prior to a crisis occurring."
U.S Attorney Miles offered suggestions on how to foster constructive communication, positive relationships and greater understanding. In Grand Rapids and Benton Harbor, for example, U.S. Attorney Miles spearheaded the development of Advocates and Leaders for Police and Community Trust (ALPACT). In roundtable format, community leaders and law enforcement meet to discuss topical subjects, including community awareness and perceptions, media portrayals, officer recruitment and how to respond to critical incidents. Originally launched by the Michigan Roundtable for Diversity and Inclusion in 1998 in Southeast Michigan, ALPACT programs likewise exist in Detroit, Saginaw and Flint.
In addition, U.S. Attorney Miles recently met with law enforcement leaders in Lansing, Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo, Battle Creek, Muskegon and Benton Harbor to discuss their protocols for dealing with officer-involved shootings and efforts to build relationships with community members of all ages and ethnicities. Planning ahead and building the right relationships today can allow communities to avoid in the future the harms recently seen elsewhere in the country.