A few days ago I was approached by a few people in our community to consider running for Police Commission for District One in Detroit. It took me several days to pray and think about what they were asking. But after much prayer and consultation with residents and friends I said YES!
Why did I say Yes: In the early years of my Christian youth development life, I worked diligently to address gang and crime related issues in the Brightmoor neighborhood surrounding my church Rosedale. I can remember spending many nights going into the projects trying to intervene in gang related activities. We even became the Detroit replication of the Ten Point Coalition and made several trips to Boston and other location to understand both the concept and develop our particular model. Over time, the Student Ministries Department was able to reduce gun violence within our neighborhood track to zero. Yes, I said zero! Our goal was not to reduce crime and drug trafficking, but to stop teh violence and prevent our young people from killing each other over simple matters.
Well this led to several multi-year mentoring grants and a gang reduction grant from the Ford Foundation. Our grant from the Ford Foundation was actually the first time the Ford Foundation had invested in a local church anywhere in the world and the first time their investment in a faith-based organization related to urban youth development and more specifically gang remediation. You see, from the very moment I entered into ministry I believed that Christians could and should have a significant impact on our society based on the premise that wherever Jesus was people and communities changed.
So as I fast forward my process for saying Yes, I realized that over the years, God had placed me in unique settings with unique opportunities to engage, mentor and transform communities from a revolutionary perspective without boasting. Over the years, our urban youth development model was being replicated across the country without fanfare. The Student Ministries Department (SMD) had built a reputation of reaching and transforming the lives of individuals who society would label and marginal and we labeled them as significant. In our eyes, we were just serving and creating a ministry that was open and appealing to urban youth regardless of the spiritual, economic, family background or educational acumen.
In 2008, God made another incredible move by inviting me to participate with two of the worlds leading youth development agencies (Educational Development Consultants, Dare Mighty Things) and two leading mentoring experts Janet Forbush and Roger Jorjoura to form a new partnership The Center for the Advancement of Mentoring (TCAM). TCAM ultimately became a national partner and consultant to the Department of Justice’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Drug Prevention serving all fifty states. As a member of the partnership, we were able to advocate for mentoring, compassionate youth development models within the federal and local justice systems, gang remediation and engagement, juvenile sentencing and more. Our partnership developed thousands of articles and hundreds of webinars, hosted national conferences and provided technical assistance to over 3000 non profits and governmental agencies.
So after considering the above and much more I realized that God had uniquely qualified me to represent the residents of District One as their Police Commissioner. Also as one who has always thought outside the box, I knew that I had more than just something to bring to the table related to policing but was more than qualified to give voice to the voiceless and advocate for better youth development strategies as it related to policing in Detroit. Additionally, way back in 1972, I was an active member of Concerned Citizens Council led by Rev. Lonnie Peek it was our sub-committee that advocated for the creation of the Detroit Police Commission and ultimately our Executive Director Susan Peek became one of the first members appointed by the late Mayor Coleman young.
In some since, life travels in full circle ordained by God. So I said YES, because unlike many I have the passion, expertise and desire to serve my city with integrity that is centered around justice and people. Therefore I said YES and I present myself to the people of District One as a write-in candidate for Detroit Police Commission.
Vote for Dennis Talbert for Police Commission in District One Write my name on your ballot. There is no candidate on the ballot.