Police, parishioners express unity in Dallas aftermath
Pontiac — Saying we’re living in troubling times, a Pontiac pastor and his flock showed unity with police officers in the aftermath of recent high-profile shooting incidents around the country involving cops and citizens.
There were hugs and tears as about 100 parishioners of the Welcome Missionary Baptist Church and about two dozen officers from the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office and departments from Auburn Hills, Ferndale, Madison Heights and West Bloomfield gathered for a community prayer service.
Between shared singing of “Amazing Grace” and enthusiastic “hallelujahs” and “amens,” there was a shared concern: that police officers needed to know the community appreciates and is behind them, and is feeling their pain after the killing of five Dallas officers and wounding of several others last week.
Uniformed officers arriving at the Oneida Street church were greeted by smiling parishioners who thanked and blessed them for their service.
“This is a troubling time and there seems to be a loss of respect,” Pastor Douglas P. Jones said. “Each of us is impacted by what happens — policemen and private citizens. We forget that someone’s son, daughter or grandchild may be among the victims. We lose sight of those who work feverishly for us every day.
“ ... It’s time we come together.”
Pastor Leland Matlock of the Calvary Missionary Baptist Church in Pontiac led a prayer for peace and unity that prompted “halleleujahs” and applause when he called for a “spiritual awakening to work in unity and love.”
Bishop William H. Murphy Jr. of New Mt. Moriah International Church in Pontiac gave a prayer for protection against terrorism, mass shootings, mass murder and airplane hijackings.
Jones invited Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard to the pulpit, as well.
“There are two faces in this world — good and evil,” Bouchard said. “We can lean towards God, which is good. Or we can lean towards hate.”
Bouchard admitted there are police officers, a very small minority, who have made mistakes.
“We can do right — tell us when we do wrong, so we can do better,” he pleaded.
Auburn Hills Police Chief Doreen Olko said her officers have been receiving countless “thank yous” since the Dallas shooting.
“There are a lot of good things happening out there — you just don’t hear about them,” she said.
Pontiac City Councilman Kermit Williams lamented while “we live in perilous times, everybody should be able to come home to their family every night, regardless of whether they put on a uniform ... ”
“We are working with those in law enforcement,” he said. “We are all family. There is no community without unity.”