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Stateside Podcast: Grand Rapids police shooting fallout

The Grand Rapids Police Department
Brett Dahlberg
/
Michigan Radio
A fence erected around the Grand Rapids Police Department.

On April 4, Grand Rapids resident Patrick Lyoya, 26, was shot and killed by a Grand Rapids police officer. The fallout from Lyoya’s tragic death has been significant, and has left many community members searching for answers.

Among those community members are public servants and government officials, like Grand Rapids Third Ward City Commissioner Senita Lenear. According to Lenear, the outcry that has followed in the wake of Lyoya’s shooting has been immense, both locally and nationally. Many have called on the government to put more focus on police reform, and Lenear said she believes officials must do exactly that.

We have to be a part of the solution. You know, dismantling the system means building it up in a different way. And if we're not willing to diversify our police force or if we can't recruit people, or people aren’t willing, I should say, to be a part of the police force, then how can we change?” said Lenear.

Though the calls for government action and police reform have exploded since the killing of Patrick Lyoya, they are certainly nothing new. Advocates have been speaking with public officials and community leaders about these issues for years, and now their voices are louder than ever.

Lenear was one of the leaders present at a community conversation event held at Ottawa Hills High School in Grand Rapids, where residents and advocates spoke and posed questions about body cams, profiling, and bridging community policing gaps. Lenear said those who attended provided valuable feedback, and said she has ideas for potential schanges.

“I think if we were to recruit a police force that mirrors the community in which they serve, I think that we could see a change in some of the outcomes,” said Lenear.

We have been trying very hard to change the culture in our community with the community and the police and we won't stop,” said Lenear. ”So though this has happened, this is probably a large wrinkle into this discussion now, but we certainly will not stop.”

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Anna joined Stateside as an assistant producer in August 2021. She is a recent graduate of Michigan State University's School of Journalism and previously worked for The State News as an intern and student government reporter.