Thursday, June 25, 2020

Area-wide ‘Listening Tour’ unites communities

Westland Mayor William R. Wild spoke to the Conference
of Western Wayne members during a meeting announcing
 the Listening Tours designed to promote
racial equality which took place last week. 
The 18 Conference of Western Wayne (CWW) mayors and supervisors, Western Wayne County police  chiefs and Western Wayne County NAACP officials today announced the “Partnerships for Progress Listening Tour”, a new collaborative effort to bring open conversation and active listening to the Western Wayne County region in light of ongoing protests around S.E. Michigan seeking new discussions and reform in our communities.
The group met June 16 in Westland City Hall to announce planned listening meetings in the CWW region.

Kerreen Conley
The goal is for community members to be able to ask police and elected officials questions, share stories and offer ideas for solutions and change. The Listening Tour meetings are an extension of ongoing discussions that recently began between Western Wayne police chiefs and the Western Wayne County NAACP.
The first meeting took place in Livonia yesterday.
“We realized that for far too long, many members of the community felt like they have not been heard by the elected officials and law enforcement in their communities. The recent killing of unarmed Black people and the resulting global protest says it is time to do something different,” said Gina Wilson Steward, Western Wayne County NAACP president.
Police Chief
Jeff Jedrusik 
To accommodate social distancing required due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the events are limited to 100 people attending in-person, and PPE will be provided. Those wanting to attend in-person can access registration information at There are no restrictions on who can attend, but in order to ensure COVID-19 safety and compliance, pre-registration is required.
For those who cannot attend, the event will be livestreamed via Facebook Live at
The meetings will include time for questions to encourage an all-encompassing conversation, officials said. Community members who register can submit proposed questions and/or statements in advance via the registration page.
Gina Wilson Steward
The events will be moderated by Daicia Price, LMSW, a member of the Detroit-Wayne County Crisis Intervention Team, which supports collaborative efforts to sustain more effective interactions between law enforcement and the communities they serve.
Gina Wilson Steward, Western Wayne County NAACP President:
“The leadership of the Western Wayne County NAACP began our Conversations with Police Chiefs last week because we must continue to work to change policies so that Black people can live without the fear of being stopped, arrested or killed by police officers.
“The information shared between the Police Chiefs and the questions asked by the community proved that more conversations need to be had. We partnered with the Conference of Western Wayne to continue our Listening Tour. We believe that continuing to learn what happens when police officers interact with Black people will help us determine which changes police chiefs and elected officials can implement that will benefit the lives of Black people,” Wilson said.
Belleville Mayor Kerreen Conley, CWW chairwoman said the events fill a need in the area.
“The message we have consistently received from the organized protestors in the Western Wayne County region is that they need to be heard. As elected officials and police chiefs, we understand that necessity and we hear you. This is the time for open and honest discussion and communication that can facilitate real change. The Partners for Progress Listening Tour will give community members the ability to ask the questions they need answered, to share their stories and to also offer ideas for solutions.
“We know that we need to give people the opportunity to be heard and we need to listen to them. Our intent with these tours is to create an environment in which all parties feel comfortable to express their concerns, questions and ideas for change,” she said.
City of Westland Police Chief Jeff Jedrusik was also in favor of the planned meetings.
“We see this as an opportunity for both the Western Wayne County police chiefs and the community to learn from each other. Through these open dialog forums, the police chiefs will be able to gain a greater perspective from our communities of their specific concerns.
“While doing so, the community will have the opportunity to see and hear firsthand how many Western Wayne County Police Departments have already implemented the training, the policies and early warning systems that the community is asking for. Moving forward, the Listening Tour will give us an excellent opportunity to create the model of community partnership for the rest of the Nation to follow,” he said.
The first meeting of the Listening Tour took place yesterday and the date for the next meeting, officials said, will be announced soon.
Romulus Mayor LeRoy Burcroff and Interim Police Chief Robert Pfannes also attended the event. Burcroff said he hopes to make Romulus a stop on the listening tour.
“Listening and being heard are two different things. Being heard is understanding the words, the meaning and what needs to happen-and we plan to do just that,” he said.
“This tour is a great opportunity for police departments and residents to speak openly about creating partnerships that benefit the community,” Burcroff added.
CWW and Western Wayne Police Chiefs represent: Belleville, Dearborn, Dearborn Heights, Garden City, Inkster, Livonia, Northville, Plymouth, Romulus, Wayne, Westland, Canton Charter Township, Huron Charter Township, Northville Charter Township, Plymouth Charter Township, Redford Charter Township, Sumpter Township and Van Buren Charter Township.