GR Mayor: Wrongful detainment is an opportunity for growth

Posted at 5:55 AM, Mar 06, 2019
and last updated 2019-03-06 05:59:01-05

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. --Both critics and supporters alike attended Tuesday night's Grand Rapids City Commission meeting to voice their concerns about the fallout surrounding a U.S. Marine who was wrongfully detained by U.S. Immigration & Customers Enforcement.

The situation has put Grand Rapids police captain Curt Vanderkooi on administrative leave while the Labor Relations Office investigates his contact with ice about Jilmar Ramos-Gomez.

You'll remember he was arrested after gaining access to a hospital's helipad and starting a fire.

The police union says since the officer was coached for calling the marine veteran "loco" in an email to ice, the case should not have been reopened.

But after protests, the city changed its tune, putting one of the longest serving members on leave.

Supporters of Captain Vanderkooi spoke up at Tuesday night's meeting.

"He's a good man and what you're doing to him is wrong," a resident said. "What you're doing to the GRPD is wrong. It is very very sad that the leadership of the city has become so anti-police. It's very very obvious I think to those of us who have been keeping up with the current events of the city," the resident said.

Mayor Bliss says she hopes this incident will help move the city forward.

"I believe that were an amazing city, a very special city, and that's because people care deeply and they love their community and now is an opportunity to hold on to that love and that compassion and our care for one another and not let challenges such as this that divide us," Mayor Bliss said.

The police union says reopening the case is a violation of their collective bargaining agreement.