Open dialog matters

Published 4:52 pm Wednesday, May 13, 2015

The leaders of the Dowagiac Police Department recently announced that they will be hitting the streets later this month, to talk directly with the men and women they are tasked with protecting.

A series of meetings will take place throughout each of the city’s three wards over the next several weeks, on the following dates:

• 7 p.m. on Tuesday, May 19, at Dowagiac Union High School, 701 W. Prairie Ronde St. (Ward 1)

• 7 p.m. on Thursday, May 21, at Federated Covenant Church, 202 Center St. (Ward 2)

• 7 p.m. on Thursday, May 28, at St. John’s Lutheran Church, 603 McCleary St. (Ward 3)

According to Director of Public Safety Steven Grinnewald, these open meetings are intended to facilitate a back-and-forth discussion between the department and the public, to help both sides better understand each other’s priorities and concerns about the community.

In our opinion, such a dialog can only result in positives for both sides of the conversation.

Over the last year, every national news outlet has devoted much of their attention toward the coverage of protests, riots and other acts of civil unrest in Ferguson, Missouri New York and Baltimore: cities where the actions of law enforcement resulted in the death of a member of the general public.

The debate over whether the officers responsible for these deaths were justified in using lethal force and whether they should face legal consequences for doing so remains highly contentious. One thing that people on both sides of the discussion can agree on, though, is that in the wake of these tragedies the divide between the residents of these communities and the officers tasked with keeping the peace is as far as its ever been.

While the relationship between residents and police seem stable here in Dowagiac, as Grinnewald has pointed out, it only takes one negative incident to open a nasty rift between the two sides.

With that in mind, we agree with the department’s decision to engage the community with these meetings. Having both sides come together in a civil setting will be humanizing and will build at least a foundation for good will, that can only grow over time.

We encourage residents to take time out of their busy schedules over the next few weeks to attend one of these meetings, which will help build a better Dowagiac.


Opinions expressed are those of the editorial board consisting of Publisher Michael Caldwell and editors Ambrosia Neldon, Craig Haupert, Ted Yoakum and Scott Novak.