Relationships have changed with officers and citizens in Bath and DeWitt township after the nationwide news of police involved shootings and the activist groups that have formed because of these incidents. “Not everyone likes Police, and it’s just something we have to deal with,” Officer Avery Lyon of Bath Township said. Racial relations have been a constant issue between citizens and officers throughout the country. Many citizens feel afraid when having an encounter with an officer. “It doesn’t matter if you’re white, black,” Lyon said.
DEWITT, Mich. — DeWitt residents lined up at the DeWitt Township Community Center as early as 6:30 a.m. in order to vote when the doors opened at 7 a.m.
Eugena Stahl, who has worked elections in DeWitt for more than 30 years, said that despite all the hubbub surrounding this presidential race, everything was going smoothly and as planned. “It’s going really well today,” Stahl said as she held a stack of ballots. “Everyone has been really positive and friendly so far.”
Resident Kimberly Miller enjoys voting and has made her pilgrimage to the polls ever since she turned 18. But something that happened to her for the first time earlier this afternoon made her a little uneasy.
The non-profit organization Area 28 offers a free year round program for athletes with disabilities in DeWitt. A branch of the Special Olympics, Area 28 also provides skills programs for children under the age of 8 with intellectual and physical disabilities, and is designed to train the athletes in an organized course so they can possibly play in the competitive games one day. “When people think of the Special Olympics they think of the summer games, but it’s not just that. It’s a year round program. We have sports every season,” Area 28 Assistant Director Kathy Logan explains.
Two members of Bath Township’s Board of Trustees had a heated argument during the board meeting on Oct. 17, 2016. A board member attempted to make a motion when suddenly a discussion broke with board member Cindy Cronk and Ryan Fewins-Bliss. Clearly upset, Cronk proceeded to make a comment to Fewins-Bliss, saying he is “such a girl”. To see what happened, visit https://bathtownship.viebit.com/#tlX0SCV2D1Lx .
The national conversations on police brutality have had an impact on the way DeWitt residents interact with the police, according to police chief Brian Russell. “People have treated us differently in some situations. When the bad guys and girls are being arrested for driving under the influence of intoxicating liquor, domestic violence or other arrests they often tell us not to shoot them,” Russell said. “Truth is we have had two officer involved shooting in 11 years.”
DeWitt is currently 94.5 percent white and local minorities said they sometimes feel targeted when passing the city. “As far as the diversity in Dewitt Township and the city of Dewitt, the officers there really target you when you get into that city limit,” said long-term township worker Barbara Davis, an African-American woman.