On seeking assurances

Published 9:47 am Thursday, July 30, 2015

On Monday evening, July 20, in the city council chambers I experienced something that made me truly thankful to be a citizen of this fair community.

Under intensified scrutiny brought on by recent events around the United States involving law enforcement, local leaders from the city, countys and state police fielded a variety of questions (and statements) from neighborhood residents and clergy.

Niles Chief Jim Millin and Sheriff Paul Bailey, with significant input from the State Police Commander, answered each and every concern with clarity and a firm command of statistics, policies, and solution strategies on how all the members of the greater Niles/Berrien County region can work together to secure and improve the strong cooperative relationship we now enjoy.

One of my colleagues of the clergy, Pastor Bryant Bacon of Mt. Calvary Baptist Church here in Niles, arose and cited the terrible examples of Ferguson, Missouri, and Baltimore, Maryland, as the “800 pound gorilla in the room.” He went on to ask for assurances from the collective police leadership present for transparency and fair treatment for all people should Niles experience a similar incident (God spare us the day).

Chief Millin gave an answer worthy of repeating in any civics classroom in the nation, drawing the tense distinction between the public’s lust for instant information with that of the accused’s right to due process and a fair trial under our Constitution.

Upon further reflection upon the events of the meeting, I had a question of my own which arose in my mind which lingers to this very moment.

Can our local law enforcement officials expect the same assurances from those attending Monday night’s meeting, whether parents or preachers, that in the event Niles faces an incident similar to the aforementioned examples; that we will all do everything in our power to keep our streets peaceful and free of rioting mobs while they strive to protect our collective “life, liberty and pursuit of happiness” which we so adamantly demand from them?

I believe that the answer from the city I know and love will always be a resounding YES!


Jeff Whittaker is the pastor at Michiana Christian Embassy in Niles.