GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Grand Rapids city commissioners say the second-degree murder charge against Officer Chris Schurr in the murder of Patrick Lyoya is emblematic of the police reforms they are working to implement.
“I very much understand the charges that were brought against Officer Schurr and I very much respect Chris Becker’s decision,” 2nd Ward Commissioner Joe Jones said. “I think it is another piece to the puzzle of trying to get to a better place around reform and the changing of the culture of law enforcement.
“I think that this is a good step in terms of going in that direction and yet there’s the need or the recognition that we’re also looking to try to get at other issues that are pertinent to our community like community violence,” Jones continued. “There’s just a real significant amount of work ahead of us.”
Jones is the head of the public safety committee, a role he has held since the beginning of the year. He and 3rd Ward Commissioner Nathaniel Moody say despite their work behind closed doors on reform, there’s a perception that they don’t care about the community.
“This incident broke my heart. It hurt me very badly. This is something you don’t ever want to have happen in your community, but it happened. I was angry inwardly and I did everything in my power to not let that anger come out because again there’s a process and a policy you have to follow,” Moody said. “As a city leader, I cannot afford to show the other side of me because inwardly if I was not a city commissioner, the old me would have been out there marching and hollering and screaming because I want the community to understand that we’re not exempt from their feelings.”
Asked how the community can move forward and what the path to healing looks like, Jones acknowledged “the magnitude of the issues that we face as a community are significant.”
“There has to be a commitment to work collectively with a number of entities throughout our community, an all-hands-on-deck approach,” Jones continued, “and so healing has to do with having greater access to opportunities to have an abundant life. That will help to heal things more quickly if people can have a greater sense of hope.”
“And that healing is going to take some time,” Moody added. “We got two families that are broken now and we have to include the city in that too. There’s three families: the family of Lyoya, the family of Christopher Schurr and the city. I think Commissioner Jones said it well: What’s going to cause us to get to where we need to be is everybody working together to bring about this healing and some transformation with all entities, so we never get to this place again.”
Moody and Jones say trust and better relationships between the community, police and city leaders will need to be built. They say there are still changes they would like to see in the years to come.
“I think that moving forward, what I would like to see as chair of public safety, I really want to lean in around the issue of root cause. When you look at the very foundation of community violence, we’d be remiss if we did not recognize some of the root causes. How exactly did we get here?” Jones started. “No matter where you look at in the country, you have certain parts of cities throughout the country that have urban cores and a lot of the things are the same. You have poverty, you have housing issues, you have poor educational outcomes, health disparities, you have high density and you have a lack of hope.”
The commissioners say as the court process continues, they want the community to know they are still working toward reform.
“As city commissioners, don’t think that we’re not doing anything. We are. You may not see us upfront voicing our opinions about things but behind those doors were are advocating for the community,” Moody said.