GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The Grand Rapids Police Department is working alongside local pastors to build trust and strengthen their relationship with people in the community. 

Several officers, faith-based leaders and community members met at Oakdale Park Church Saturday morning for a unity walk. Organizers said the effort started a few months ago when GRPD officers began meeting with local pastors to talk about why they believe there’s a disconnect between law enforcement and the community and how to show people they care. 

“What this whole event was about today was that we were walking in peace and unity,” said Pastor Greg with Uptown Church GR. “What we have to understand as a community that we have to come together at times like this in order to build the relationships so when times are strained, we can come together with dialogue and talking.”

Officer Javon Sanders, who helped organize the walk, said he’s grateful to be a part of it and wants people to know this is only the beginning. 

“Just know that we’re here, we’re not going anywhere and we’re here with good intentions and want to see this grow,” Sanders said.