GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — President Joe Biden recently announced a plan to reduce gun violence and other crimes nationwide, but leaders in the Black community think it could do more harm than good.
“This is an ongoing problem that is occurring not only in Grand Rapids, but in cities all across the country,” said Carlton T. Mayers, II, Esq., national policing reform consultant at Mayers, Strategic Solutions, LLC and policing reform advisor for NAACP Grand Rapids Branch. “It encourages over-policing of Black and brown communities, which ultimately results in the unnecessary harms and deaths of Black and brown people.”
Biden’s plan is suggesting cities use some of their COVID-19 relief funding to get the job done.
Mayers says the community should be involved in the decision before money is allocated.
“We are very much so not in support of just arbitrarily giving money to law enforcement and not to community resources to deal with gun violence and violent crimes. They can use the money not only to hire more police officers, but also to use and purchase technology and other equipment. We’re very concerned about that,” said Mayers.
Last year, leaders with the city of Grand Rapids debated using ShotSpotter technology in high crime neighborhoods. This would use microphones to detect gunshots in certain areas. The plan hasn’t been approved, but Gayle Harvey, the NAACP’s executive officer of external relations, worries this would target Black and brown communities before crimes even take place.
“How is that going to help, how is it going to continue to protect Black and brown people in those communities that it services because to the high end, those are the communities that it will be in,” said Harvey.
These two say getting the community together would be a better plan to brainstorm solutions moving forward.
“That is going to at least put in place a way that community members would have a say on how this technology is used, so that way it’s not used in a discriminatory fashion,” said Mayers.
Harvey says the NAACP has already been in touch with city officials and the police department in hopes of moving forward in a positive direction for everyone.