Detroit police, churches unite for Faith & Blue Weekend

Mark Hicks
The Detroit News

This weekend, Detroit's police precincts are joining the local faithful for an outreach initiative aimed at strengthening bonds in the communities they serve.

As part of the inaugural National Faith & Blue Weekend, the Detroit Police Department Chief’s Neighborhood Liaison and Chaplains Corps are hosting more than a dozen events through Monday across the city.

A poster for the opening events.

Included are a "Healin & Grillin Community BBQ" at Pingree Park on Saturday, a "Vigil for Understanding" at the Cathedral of the Most Blessed Sacrament on Sunday, and a Fallen Angels Motorcade Parade on the city's east side Monday. 

National organizers say the mission is to “facilitate safer, stronger, more just and unified communities by engaging law enforcement officers and local residents through the connections of houses of worship.”

“Our pathway to progress around policing as a nation is a collaborative one that focuses on our commonalities rather than our differences,” the Rev. Markel Hutchins, an NFBW organizer, said in a statement Friday.

“Because sixty million Americans attend weekly gatherings at more than 350,000 houses of worship nationwide, nothing rivals the depth and breadth of influence presented by houses of worship who are unique and powerful gateways to the heart of communities in which they have a mutual interest in achieving effective police-community engagement.” 

And in Detroit, amid ongoing protests tied to racial inequality and police brutality, it offers a "time for healing," said Detroit police Cmdr. Kyra Joy Hope, who works in the Chief's Neighborhood Liaison Unit and is vice president of the local chapter for the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives.

"I'm hoping in solidary it will rebuild and reclaim better relations in the community," she said.

Detroit's effort launched Friday with festivities including a "Unity in the Park" softball game.

From noon to 2 p.m. Saturday, Evangel Ministries on the city's west side hosts a Peace and Prayer Walk with the department's Second Precinct.

At least 100 people are expected to participate, with motivational speakers, lemonade sampling and a DJ spinning music, said Julia Kroll, a church member who has been coordinating the event for weeks.

She views the gathering as another way to reach across the divide in trying times. 

"At the end of day, we need to love each other," she said. "There’s hurt everywhere. The biggest thing in coming together in unity is healing everyone involved."

For information on the activities, go to the Faith & Blue website or the Detroit Police Department's Facebook page.