JACKSON, Mich. (WLNS) – Law enforcement leaders in Jackson sat side-by-side with community activists like Tasha Carter.

The goal? Listen and share ideas in hopes of improving the relationship between the black community and police.

“Every aspect of the black life experience, there is a disparity. Until we acknowledge that there is a problem, we can’t brainstorm on solutions,” said Carter.

Tony Gant was there. He says it’s about not shying away from uncomfortable conversations.

“A lot of time with our young people we tell them yeah pull up your pants, stop listening to this and don’t do this because we are worried about how white people are going to receive them. At the root that’s what the worry is. We are worried how white people perceive them and that’s a problem for me,” said Gant.

Jackson County Sheriff Gary Schuette says his department is focused on training for deputies and more in-depth vetting of potential candidates. The Sheriff says his department wants to be part of the solution.

“The reality of it is we want to make things better. That’s the bottom line, and if we are making things worse or we are hurting people in some way, we want to know,” said Schuette.

Both the city and county say they are also working to become more involved in schools. Jackson Police Chief Elmer Hitt says they also want to hire more officers who grew up in Jackson.

“We know a police force, a law enforcement agency should be made up of percentage-wise consistent with the community that that agency is policing,” said Hitt.

Jackson Mayor Daniel Mahoney calls the conversation progress.

“We are here in Jackson working to be proactive in our interactions with our law enforcement, both supporting them and also trying to educate them on how to deal with different communities in different ways.”

Leaders say discussions like this only help make both relationships and the community stronger.