Youth summit with community leaders, Detroit police, features tough questions from children

On the campus of Wayne County Community College there was a room divided. On one side, roughly 200 kids ages 9 to 18 years old. On the other, their parents and adults. 
The message catered by Detroit police specifically geared towards the kids for one reason.

"We always say the kids are the future - but really the kids are the now," said DPD Chief James White.

So the chief, along with a panel of community activists and advocates, helped spread a message of safety.

"We are going to pour our hearts and our souls out to you today to get you to understand, that you are in the right place at the right time," said Darryl Woods, SAY Detroit.

Especially when it comes to gun violence. This year alone, 12 children in Detroit have been shot and killed.

"My biggest fear every night is I’m going to get a call about you, you and you," said Cmdr. Kimberly Blackwell, DPD Homicide.

"And we are willing to do whatever's necessary to make sure you have the tools you need, so you won't be the next one to bring tears to your momma or your grand momma's eyes," said Teferi Brent, community activist.

They also tried to answer questions no child should have to ask - but it speaks to a larger problem.

"What do you do if someone attacks you or tries to strangle you around your neck?" asked one girl.

"The fact that this queen has to ask that question - because we run around this community and say we run this block," Brent said. "But our babies, she ain’t safe."

"What happens when someone chases you that you don’t know?" asked another little girl.

"This is a 9-year-old baby and I have to tell her to run with all her might, if someone chases her," Chief White said. "It's broken."

And questions that speak to a real fear in the community.

"If a police officer thinks you are doing harm to somebody and they try to shoot you or taze you, what do you do?"

 all of which point out bridges still under construction.

"Be as eager to right that wrong as we are to right the wrong of policing, because it all matters," White said. "And two things can be true at once. We can be better at policing - we have to be, because you matter. But we can be better as a community."

This youth summit was not all about gun violence, they also covered drug use, vaping, and the dangerous pitfalls of social media. Conversations DPD plans to continue to have in the future.