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. “As soon as I get in there, they’re just right on you.”
It is common among minorities to feel targeted in a densely-diverse area. MSU students also report feeling targeted in areas that aren’t diverse.
“I can go to visit my mom who lives in a predominantly white area, and I’ll get pulled over and searched for no reason,” said MSU student Roderick Hawkins. “Never getting a ticket, but always getting pulled over. That’s how I know I am a target.”
Despite these claims, the DeWitt chief said the community supports law enforcement.
“Several good citizens have sent us thank-you cards for all our service and others have bought our breakfast or lunch anonymously. Overall, the community here supports law enforcement,” Russell said.
For more information on DeWitt Charter Township, visit the city’s website.