ECORSE, Mich. (WXYZ) — As 7 Action News checked in with the police chief in Ecorse Friday, the department and city are dealing with a horrific crime that took the life of star high school athlete Dennell “Nelly” Kemp.
Kemp, a high school senior and All-State athlete playing football, basketball and baseball, was gunned down in his car following a shooting at a neighbor's home. He’s also being remembered as a phenomenal kid.
Now Chief Jerry Flowers, who has been in law enforcement for 42 years and chief in Ecorse for nearly two years, is trying to solve the senseless crime.
“We are all deeply saddened by what happened. Of course, our hearts go to his family,” Flowers said. “We are working diligently with DPD and Lincoln Park (police) and some of the other neighboring cities to try to solve this crime.”
Although this tragedy took place, Flowers said crime has gone down for the last five years.
“We’ve had two homicides earlier this year, but they were both domestic violence, and we’ve been working together with the FBI, state police, DPD and other agencies as I said because we’re all experiencing the same types of crimes to try to eliminate it,” Flowers said, adding that there were no major incidents this summer.
One concern the chief has is violence involving teens as well as rappers who were using housing in the city and creating problems.
“There was a lot of violence associated with that but with us working in conjunction with the other departments and doing spot-checks over there, we kind of curtailed that,” Flowers said.
Flowers said since he’s been with the department, he’s had a message: “rebuild that bridge between the police and the community.”
“My message to the citizens in the council meeting was you can't depend on the police to do all this themselves. We have to have community involvement or it's just going to continue,” the chief continued. “I have a lot as far as experience and knowledge to pass on to these people to try to get the police department and community back as one.”
For Flowers, policing is more than just a job. It’s something he says is his “calling,” and he works to give back to the community.
“I always say too to the new hires, this is not a job. If you think this is a job, you can turn around and walk back out that door,” he said. “This is a calling and a career. You have to care about people. And it was my calling, so I wanted to come back and try to give back to the community.”
The chief said he’s training officers on how to de-escalate situations they’re dealing with in Ecorse, so residents and police officers can come together in harmony.