Gym works to strengthen community-police relations

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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — As Blues Gym trains and mentors kids through its faith-based nonprofit, it is also helping community members appreciate the work law enforcement officers do on a daily basis.

Thursday, officers and deputies from Kentwood police and the Kent County Sheriff’s Department came out to interact with those involved with the gym. Dino Newville co-founded the gym with artist Paul Collins. Their goal of the program is to stop violence and build trust in Grand Rapids-area communities.

“They go out there to protect us, to protect everybody. We have to build that trust. People here, and not just here but everywhere else, need to know the cops are our friends,” he told 24 Hour News 8.

Newville is a world champion kickboxer and knows all too well how important it is to build positive relationships with law enforcement.

Thursday marked 21 years to the day Newville was released from prison. He was serving time for property crimes, but explained it could have become a death sentence. As Target 8 reported in November 1998, another inmate asked Newville to find him a hit man to kill a Kent County judge. Instead, Newville took the information to police. But it cost him — other inmates put a target on his back. After investigators transferred Newville to different facilities for his safety, a judge saw his well-intentioned efforts and reduced his sentence.

That experience that has shaped his appreciation for officers and made him devote his time to mentoring kids.

“I try to embed in their minds all the time of how important our freedom is. We take things for granted. Everybody does,” he said Thursday.

Newville added he has the utmost respect for the men and women who put on a uniform each day and are responsible for protecting people. That respect is something he now works to instill in the kids he trains.

Blues Gym runs solely on donations. If you’re interested in helping the gym’s cause or taking part in the ministry, you can call 616.323.5155.

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