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Michigan State Police partner with local pastors

As another deadly police shooting is making headlines, Michigan State Police want to build stronger bonds with the community and they're enlisting the help of local churches.

The pastor of first Presbyterian church says she and her congregation have always had faith in State Trooper Maurice Burton.

He's one of the people behind this new plan.

And she hopes joining programs like this will help inspire the surrounding community to trust the police as well.

“I believe that there's this hope that local clergy have relationships with trust in the community and so they can be a bridge possibly,” said Pastor Laurie Hartzell of the First Presbyterian Church.

Pastor Hartzell is a longtime resident of Benton harbor.

She has seen the highs and lows of this community.

“There's a lot of brokenness here," she said. "There's a lot of brokenness in many communities."

That's why she's helping to rebuild it by partnering with the police.

C.A.U.T.I.O.N (community action united team in our neighborhood) is a training program that will partner clergy and police.

“Churches have always taken the lead of the civil rights movement in the past so that's why its such a strong movement, the mouthpiece of the pastor,” said Trooper Maurice Burton.

And the department hopes the new recruits will inspire a better relationship with the community.

“Police are able to get in and work hand and hand and get to know the people in the community and the community gets to know some of the officers that are working in their community not only will they just look at the uniform and officers will not only look at possible color of their skin or gender but be able to look at each individual for who they are and build that trusting relationship,” said Burton.

Training starts later this week for participating churches.

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