At our third meeting, with 12 members present, the Gun Violence Task Force started our Power One-on-One interviews by interviewing Judge Curtis Bell of Kalamazoo County Probate Court and retired KDPS Capt. Stacey Ledbetter. Capt. Stacey talked about her work in ALPACT (Advocates and Leaders for Police And Community Trust). Its mission is to address problems and issues affecting police and community relations. She also does volunteer work and presentations for law enforcement through her company, Black & Blue Networking & Consulting, LLC and is a member of the TRHT Law Leadership Team. Judge Bell, after 10 years in the circuit court family division, joined the probate court. Judge Bell started a juvenile mental health court with a focus on wrap-around programs. He started KEYS: Kalamazoo Empowering Youth for Success, a program to address an individual’s needs through assessment and assignment of needed services.
Both talked about the lack of accessible services in Kalamazoo, particularly mental health services. They discussed the lack of funding dedicated to helping youth before they are in the court system, and potentially incarcerated. Both discussed the negative impact of institutionalized racism.
In response to questions from the members about violence affecting youth in Kalamazoo, particularly the implications of negative interactions with law enforcement, two online videos were cited:
“The Talk” by Proctor and Gamble; talking to children of color about safety and bias.
“KDPS CommUNITY” video, a student-produced video on law enforcement and community relations.
The Task Force reviewed member information on the recent Service of Remembrance for Victims of Gun Violence at The Galilee Baptist Church and its outreach to survivors and the February 25 MI Moms Demand Action Advocacy Day in Lansing and its focus on proposed domestic violence/gun violence and red flag legislation. We also discussed members’ participation in the recent ISAAC Leadership and Implicit Bias trainings.
As we continue to discuss and learn about gun violence in Kalamazoo and where to focus, we will next meet with Sherry Brockway, Kalamazoo YWCA Director of Training and Community Impact at our March 25 meeting.
Task force meetings are held each month on the 4th Tuesday from 6:30-8pm. Our next meeting will be held on Tuesday February 25 at St. Luke’s. New or returning members are always welcomed. Please join us!
– Tami Rey & Rick Omilian, Gun Violence Prevention Task Force Co-Chairs