Flint residents criticize state troopers during a community meeting

Jul 18, 2014

Michigan State Police troopers faced a barrage of criticism during a community meeting in Flint today. Much of the complaints centered on recent fatal auto accidents involving state troopers.

Lt. Tom Deasy (right) listens as multiple speakers criticize how Michigan State Police troopers are handling their job patrolling Flint's streets
Lt. Tom Deasy (right) listens as multiple speakers criticize how Michigan State Police troopers are handling their job patrolling Flint's streets
Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

It was a sometimes emotional three hour meeting between Flint residents and state police commanders.

Many people, including family members of two women killed in auto accidents linked to car chases involving state troopers, blasted the state police.

“You don’t even have a 'Plan B' when you’re chasing somebody,” a woman in the audience, “That just doesn’t make any sense, to come here as a professional and kill people who were not even involved in what you were dealing with.”

Dozens of Michigan State Police troopers are patrolling Flint city streets and assisting with investigations in the city.  The troopers are augmenting Flint's depleted police department, which has been decimated in recent years by budget cuts.

Lt. Tom Deasy is the Flint Post Commander. He took most of the heat during the meeting, fielding questions and trying to return answers, many of which were not accepted.

“Even if it gets uncomfortable for us or uncomfortable for the public, it’s important for us to talk,” Deasy said after the meeting. 

Deasy says the Michigan State Police have been holding regularly community meetings to discuss the community’s concerns. 

But one of the concerns that’s difficult to address is the matter of race.   

Many Flint residents say part of the problem stems from the largely white state police enforcing law in predominately African-American neighborhoods.

“It shouldn’t be a Black & White issue, but…it is what it is,” says Irene Fouse, “We understand, but we need more trust.”

Pastor LaTrelle Holmes is with Flint’s Greater Galilee Baptist Church. He’s glad to see the Michigan State Police is willing to come to his church to listen to people’s concerns.

“They need to hear that everyone in Flint is not a lawbreaker,” says Holmes.

He hopes the troopers will respond to the public’s concerns.

Meanwhile, the investigations into the two recent fatal auto accidents, and the state troopers’ decisions in the car chases that led to them, continue.