TROY, Mich. – A church pastor has a bold plan to improve relations between police and the community.
The idea is to put upset citizens in the same room as police officers so both could get to see where the other is coming from, but one police officer with Michigan State Police did not have permission to represent the agency and what she said has more than ruffled feathers.
At Troy's Embassy Covenant Church International, Bishop Hugh Daniel Smith wanted to get in front of the problem, so he brought in local police to meet face to face with upset members of his mostly African-American congregation.
"There was such an outrage over the disproportion number of African-American unarmed people that have been gunned down by police officers," Smith said.
One of the panelists was Faith Larkin. The Michigan State Police sergeant was telling it like it is, with jaws dropping when she confessed she doesn't follow the MSP rule book when pulling over people.
"When I am coming up to a car, if the first thing I am met with is attitude, then attitude is what you get back," Larkin said. "If you are rude, expect rudeness back."
Then she spilled even more secrets, saying Michigan State Police do not have nearly enough African-Americans on the job.
"Probably 85 percent of our unit is Caucasian," Larkin said.
And that black citizens are paying a price.
"They are being racial profiled by this Caucasian officer who does not know often times how to interact with someone that is not of their own race," Larkin said.
Suggesting white troopers hired from white communities, like in the Upper Peninsula, do not have the life experience or police training to root out prejudice.
"You would think that we would have a more diversified unit, but since Affirmative Action has been stopped, there is no longer that aggressive push to bring in minorities," Larkin said.
At the Michigan State Police, you can count the number of African-American female hires in the last decade on one hand. Larkin said it's a serious problem.
"You have a law enforcement that is primarily Caucasian with their biases, with their prejudices, with the media hyping things up, and you are asking them to go out and do a job where prejudice is not allowed," Larkin said.
It's exactly the kind of conversation Smith was hoping for -- real talk leading to real change, but there is a problem. Larkin is on leave and is not authorized to speak on behalf of the MSP. An internal investigation is underway.