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Pastor, state police reach out after Dallas

Evan Carter
The Detroit News

Wayne— In a sanctuary room with church congregants, Michigan State Police and Inkster officers collectively bowed their heads as the pastor prayed after shootings last week of two black men and five police officers in Dallas.

“The important thing is we need peace. We need peace and the Lord to help us,” said Art Wilson, pastor of International Church of Metro Detroit. “I pray for healing in every community.”

Applause and “yes” could be heard throughout the room.

“If I remember right, the Lord told us to pray for our enemies,” Wilson said. “Let’s be a part of the solution and not the problem.”

About 100 people attended the prayer service at International Church in Wayne, which Wilson said was meant to support families affected by the violence by police and against police that occurred last week. He pointed to programs like Light Up the City, which has community members walking with police officers through neighborhoods and is run out of his church, as examples of programs that are succeeding in building trust between the police and the community.

Lt. Michael Shaw, public information officer for the Michigan State Police, also spoke about the state police’s Secure Cities Partnership and the success it’s having in bring down violent crime in cities.

In 2011, Gov. Snyder created the program along with MSP DirectorColonel Kriste Kibbey Etue to assist police departments in Detroit, Flint, Saginaw and Pontiac. The program has since expanded to Inkster, Hamtramck, Harper Woods and Highland Park.

Shaw said there has been success in bringing down violent crime in communities like Pontiac and Inkster.

"We also have to be a part of the community,” he said. “That's when we start talking about certain things when we look across the country ... we see the police not getting along with the community," Shaw said. "Come to Inkster, we'll show you how it's done."

Wilson urged people to heal together and not apart.

"I'm against the stigma of Black Lives Matter because it doesn't unify, it divides," Wilson said, referring to the advocacy group protesting fatal shootings of African-Americans by police.

Paul Pittman, 31, of Livonia, attends International Church and came Sunday to support police officers.

"I have friends who are cops, people I graduated with are cops," Pittman said.

excarter@detroitnews.com