WARREN, Ohio (WKBN) — From New York City to Ferguson to Cleveland, the same slogans have been repeated: Black lives matter. Blue lives matter.
On Sunday in Warren, the message was that both matter.
Valerie Hostutler has been in law enforcement for 25 years. She currently works for the Trumbull County Sheriff’s Department.
“There is good and bad in some things that happen,” said Hostutler.
On Sunday, she spoke at New Jerusalem Fellowship in Warren about some of the issues between police and the African-American community.
“They’re out to do their job as well to go home at night as well. Yes there is some things we have to change and some of those things is how we view and see and react to police officers,” Hostutler said.
She also said that sometimes the community’s perception of police officers is a little off.
“It’s not always the police officer who’s at fault. Sometimes it’s how you address the police officer or how you perceive them,” said Hostutler.
Her message was part of a request by the Trumbull County Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance for pastors to talk to their congregations about what’s been happening.
“What is it that needs to happen from us. What needs to happen in our Justice Department and what they feel about what’s going on right now,” said Rev. Alton L. Merrell of the New Jerusalem Fellowship.
Merrell said the message is also about reflecting on problems within the community.
“One of the principal things we’re addressing is when our young people are walking in the street and they don’t move when you’re walking or you’re driving your car. We’ve got something to do internally,” said Merrell.
Manila Taylor is a criminal justice major at Youngstown State University. She wants to facilitate change when she begins her career.
“I want to be one of those people who can say, ‘yeah you can trust me. I have your back as long as you have mine,'” said Taylor.
Hostutler agreed with the idea.
“You have to remember those police officers have an oath and they are there to protect you. They’re there to serve you,” said Hostutler.
Merrell also noted that one of the positive messages he wanted to send out is that the church isn’t against the police department.