State dept. of Civil Rights holds hearings on GRPD, public interactions

Posted at 6:28 PM, Mar 28, 2019
and last updated 2019-03-28 18:29:22-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Hundreds of people attended public hearings held by the Michigan Department of Civil Rights at the Greater Grand Rapids NAACP, Thursday afternoon. The MDCR said it scheduled the two meetings to hear from community members about their interactions with Grand Rapids police.

MDCR director Agustin V. Arbulu said, “This hearing is an official step in what could become a formal investigation.”

Many residents told the Michigan Department of Civil Rights they’ve been profiled and treated unfairly by police. The state office called for the hearings after two recent events, including a man punched close to thirty times by an officer during a traffic stop. That officer, as a result, was placed on administrative leave.

Another incident involved an officer pulling his gun on two teenagers who refused to identify themselves after they were stopped for walking in the street. Interim chief David Kiddle said that officer followed protocol.

The case of veteran marine Jilmar Ramos-Gomez drew national attention. While in custody, police reported him to U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement. That’s despite him having identification. The officer accused of racial profiling, Captain Curt Vanderkooi, was exonerated.

The MDCR said it’ll review citizen testimony and any letters submitted, then make a determination on how to move forward.

GRPD said it welcomes an external objective review and that they’re open to opportunities to better serve the community.