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GRPD officer's posts suggest racial profiling on the job

Posted at 6:18 PM, Aug 27, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-27 23:46:11-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — A Grand Rapids Police officer and local activists are sparring over posts the officer made that appear to suggest he racially profiles on the job.

Officer Walter Tett, a veteran GRPD officer, recently authored a series of now-deleted posts on Facebook discrediting the Black Lives Matter movement, accusing local activists of worsening racial tensions, and claiming he pulled over cars based on the color of the driver’s skin.

“When you have a police officer who gives an admission of racial profiling, it goes past his opinion,” said Kent County Commissioner Robert S. Womack, who was at the center of another of Tett’s posts. “Messages I sent for him to pull down these posts only spurred him on to make more derogatory posts.”

Officer Tett mentions Womack and activist Paul Mayhue in another post, claiming they “keep the hate and anger alive” by bringing up race relations in the community.

In another post, Tett claims he stopped cars during his inner-city beat based on the registration and color of the driver’s skin.

“We would see old white men in in nice cars registered out of Jenison, Grandville, Caledonia, Hudsonville, Byron Center, etc driving around Division/Hall, Hall/Cass, etc.” the post reads. “THEY DON’T FIT. And when they don’t fit, you use any LEGAL reason to stop it to find out why they are there. Those areas are frequented by prostitutes,” the post went on.

“His racial profiling is racially profiling the black community as crime-ridden: prostitutes, drug dealers,” said Womack. “He’s racial profiling white Americans that, if they come into that neighborhood, they’re only looking for drugs. They couldn’t possibly live there or have black friends there.”

Officer Tett was also embroiled in controversy in 2019 when he was the first officer on the scene of a deadly shooting where his own brother was the gunman. The shooting was ruled self-defense, and charges were never filed against Glenn Tett. Reports state Officer Tett left the scene after learning the details of what had happened.

While none of the men think Tett should be fired, Womack, Mayhue, and local activist Bryan Blakely, who also spoke with FOX17 on Thursday, think Tett’s posts set a dangerous standard for the community’s relationship with law enforcement.

“When the youth see an officer admitting to racial profiling, now when an officer stops them it automatically hits their head maybe they’re doing what Officer Tett does,” said Womack.

GRPD referred FOX 17 on Thursday to the same comment they issued earlier in the week:

GRPD only provided FOX 17 with that comment, but Chief Eric Payne has openly supported the Black Lives Matter movement during peaceful protests earlier in the year.