National Night Out connects community with police

It was National Night Out in metro Detroit Tuesday.

And as police look to strengthen ties and make inroads into their respective communities, researchers from Michigan, Rutgers and Washington universities released a study saying police use of force is a leading cause of death for young men of color -- black men in particular.

"That's important, and that's a conversation that we all need to talk about in this nation," said Inkster Chief William Riley. 

FOX 2 talked with Riley who became the city's top cop in 2015 after former Officer William Melendez brutally beat Floyd Dent - an African-American - during a traffic stop.

"I've got a 26-year-old son and a 19-year-old daughter," Riley said. "I want a better place for them not only in the country as a whole, but also in policing. I (want to) feel comfortable and safe wherever they go if they get stopped by law enforcement that the person will be professional, and treat them in a manner that would be befitting of them, not some stereotype that's been hanging around since the early 1900s up till now."

Riley says community policing has been key in restoring trust with residents and national night out events like these buoy those efforts. It's why DeShawn Bohannon, an Inkster resident, brought his three kids out Tuesday night.

"I just wanted to give them a different vibe of what the police do and how they are a part of the community," Bohannon said.

The study estimated that black men were two and half times more likely to be killed by police than white men.

"This is something that has been going on for years and years," said Kenneth Reed, from the Detroit Coalition Against Police Brutality.

Reed said he was not surprised by the study's findings and hopes it will stir the nation's conscience.

"It is definitely a problem and we can't just gloss over it and say maybe it's not as bad as they're saying," Reed said.