Grand Rapids Police to address policy after 11-year-old girl’s handcuffing

Posted at 5:46 PM, Dec 20, 2017
and last updated 2017-12-20 18:03:28-05

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- The Grand Rapids Police Department is not disciplining the officers who handcuffed and detained 11-year-old Honestie Hodges Dec. 6, while searching for a 41-year-old stabbing suspect.

Wednesday evening the GRPD announced their internal investigation is closed, released the full 100-minute incident on body camera footage and stated they are taking steps to address policy and relations between the police and community. The department will not discipline involved officers because officials say they did not violate policy that night.

Moving forward, the GRPD said they will:

  • Work on policies affecting children
  • Chief David Rahinksy assigned a deputy to develop what the GRPD will call the Honestie Policy, to revise how officers deal with children
  • Re-examine their staffing model, including Chief Rahinksy asking for additional lieutenants on each patrol shift to be there to help officers through situations like this incident
  • Ensure the additional lieutenants undergo unique training with de-escalation techniques
  • Set up new training specifically involving children for all officers, and road officers will be ordered to spend more time with children through groups like Boys and Girls Club and the Youth Police Academy

"As a profession, our training generally involves adults, because overwhelmingly that’s what poses a threat to law enforcement," said Chief Rahinksy.

"That being said, we recognize in these unique times that an innovative approach would be to include children in our scenario and role playing opportunities so that’s something that we will be doing. I’m not aware of any other agencies doing in this country, but again, Grand Rapids, we want to be in front of these issues, we want to have some of these opportunities to be the best, and I think this crisis has provided an opportunity."

Earlier Wednesday the chief and command staff met with clergy and civil rights leaders including the Grand Rapids Area Pastors, Michigan Department of Civil Rights, and Advocates and Leaders for Police and Community Trust (ALPACT) to discuss the Hodges incident and next steps.

"Our city has a deep-rooted problem, and that problem is racism," said Rev. Nathaniel Moody of Brown Hutcherson Ministries.

"The cultural differences between the police department and some individuals that work with the police department must change. Our children feel as if they’ll be attacked every day, they feel like they can’t go anywhere, so we want to make sure that that doesn’t happen," said Rev. Moody.

When Rahinsky announced it was time to take a deeper look into policy but it was unlikely the involved officers would be disciplined, clergy disapproved, adding they want "swift" and meaningful change.

"If no fault lies in what occurred, then we need to look deeper, we need to look at systems, we need to look at policy, we need to look at what we can modify to ensure equitable outcomes," said Rahinksy.

"We are dismayed that there would even be the possibility of no disciplinary action on behalf of an officer, especially since the process of investigation and discipline is totally controlled by the Grand Rapids Police Department," said Pastor Jerry Bishop of Lifequest Ministries.