Utahns discuss safety, unity after three officers killed in Baton Rouge

Posted at 10:22 PM, Jul 17, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-18 00:22:08-04

SALT LAKE CITY -- The latest round of shootings is another blow to law enforcement, including agencies in Utah, and Salt Lake City Police said they are thinking of extra safety measures.

Meanwhile, Mayor Jackie Biskupski preached to a local church Sunday about the importance of the Salt Lake Community coming together to promote a safe, inclusive and loving city.

Song and worship emanated from the Trinity African Methodist Episcopal (AME) church Sunday afternoon, as the congregation celebrated the gospel and honored a milestone.

“Trinity has been a touchstone of faith and community for generations of families in this area,” Mayor Biskupski said during her address at the church.

The church has been around 128 years, and to mark the anniversary, Biskupski declared July 17, 2016 as Trinity African Methodist Episcopal Church Day. She signed a proclamation and gifted it to church leaders.

Trinity AME has served the community, preached God’s word and led prayers for decades. The prayers on Sunday touched upon unrest around the country.

"We seem to be imploding from the inside out,” said the man who led a prayer in front of the church.

Many awoke to hearing of more violence Sunday morning, as part of the continued struggle that surrounds police departments over the shooting deaths of black men, and of officers.

Salt Lake City Police say they can feel it from across the country.

"Just when I thought I could remove this badge drape from my police badge,” said Detective Cody Lougy, referring to the stripe on his badge from the Dallas police shooting. “Once again we hear of another shooting that's happened with our brothers and sisters in blue."

He said this, “certainly weighs heavily on every single officer regardless of the department that we work for.”

They’re now wondering if they should take extra safety steps.

“We've talked about maybe sending those officers out in two person teams,” Det. Lougy said. “They know and they feel that their safety is at risk.”

The feeling of turmoil runs deep for everyone.

Back at Trinity AME, Senior Pastor Nurjhan B. Govan said she wants to see a swift, strong-handed response from public officials when it comes to police brutality against minorities.

She said the response to police shootings of black men isn’t speedy enough, and it’s leading to vigilante-like action.

“We do not condone violence, but we feel that our nation needs a wake-up call and a warning,” Govan said.

Govan, along with Mayor Biskupski, said it’s time to come together.

"We are in this together and we are creating a community for everyone," Biskupski said during her address.

She said people of faith can rebuild the walls surrounding the community with love, prayer and comfort.

“We each have a unique role in rebuilding walls that support us,” Biskupski said. “We are each a brick in the wall.”

Those layers of brick, with worship songs and spirituality as the mortar, built a message of unity in a time of division.

“As a people, as a nation,” Govan said, “together we stand and divided we fall.”

Det. Lougy said Salt Lake City PD is hosting a community dialogue called “Transforming Together.”

He said it’ll focus on opening the lines of communication between police and the community, finding solutions to issues, and finding out how police can do a better job for the community.

Transforming Together is scheduled for July 21 from 5 to 8 p.m. at the Sorenson Unity Center in Salt Lake City.