DETROIT (WWJ) – The morning service was packed not only with regular church members, but also with representatives of the law enforcement community.
Hundreds of police officers, sheriff’s deputies, emergency personnel and others gathered for Detroit’s Greater Grace Temple’s annual service.
For more than a dozen years the church has been holding its “Law Enforcement Appreciation and Prayer Day.”
But Sunday’s service had police and community leaders focused on a recent incident in Detroit, in which a man was severely beaten by at least five people after he struck at a boy with his vehicle.
Detroit Police Commander Elvin Barron echoed the feeling of many at the service saying that it’s important for the community and police to support one another.
“We’ve really got to educate the community … and our citizens about how we should resolve issues,” he said.
Sergeant Erik Eide is with the Detroit Mounted Police, he’s been attending the event for several years now.
“It’s nice to be appreciated and show the community we appreciate what they do,” said Eide.
Onicena Jones of Southfield says she started participating years ago after her son’s father died in the line of duty.
“I think law enforcement is very important to our citizens and also to our community because they do so much, they put their lives on the line, and people don’t realize that families also put their lives on the line,” said Jones.
Jones said her son — who is now 16 — lost his dad days before his 12th birthday. Tommy Brett was just 50 years old when he suffered a fatal heart attack while sitting inside his squad car.
Sergeant Douglas Muston was there for the first time.
“Police officers, and I think it’s really highlighted with the mounted officers … we want to really become as active as we can in the community, to let them know that we support them, just as they support us,” said Sgt. Muston.
Bishop Charles Ellis III is pastor of Greater Grace Temple and was shocked by the images he witnessed on the video.
“I was horrified at what I saw,” said … “It says again how dangerous these times are – we see everybody as taking CLP licenses and you see classes being given all the time, we give them here at the church, we have a right to carry weapons and people have a right to protect themselves but this becomes the wild, wild west, you know we could be in a lot of trouble.”