DETROIT (WWJ) — With recent tension across the nation regarding civilian-law enforcement relations, the Detroit Police Department is committed to creating a stronger relationship with area youth.

Hundreds of Detroit children spoke with the city’s police chief on Saturday as a part of an event entitled “Honor the Line: Bridging the Gap Between Youth and Law Enforcement.”

Bridge the gap, that was the message being shared by Detroit Police Chief James Craig at the special event at Triumph Church in Detroit.

“My dad taught me growing up in Detroit — it really had an impact on me — that if you have an interaction with a police officer, you comply,” Craig said. “Certainly if the police officer is wrong — police officers are human, they make mistakes — there is a process to address that.”

Craig spoke with kids to find out how they feel about the police, while trying to encourage the youth to befriend them. He said that officers come into neighborhoods to serve and protect, and that there’s no need to be afraid.

“We come into neighborhoods as peacekeepers, we support your community and we want to continue to foster that,” Craig said. “We want to work with our youth community because it’s important, because they’re the future of Detroit.”

With the recent events in Ferguson, Missouri fresh on the minds of everyone, Craig says it’s important a dialogue begins in Detroit, with the goal of eliminating misplaced distrust between the youth and law enforcement.

“I embrace the whole notion of mentoring, and when we get a young person who’s going astray, that we — along with parents, guardians, neighbors — play an active role in redirecting that young person,” Craig said.

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