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Kalamazoo Public Safety chief addresses officer's racially charged comments

Posted at 11:24 PM, Jul 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-08 23:24:13-04

KALAMAZOO, Mich. — The Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety provided an update to a racially charged incident that they say occurred on the morning of Sunday, July 4.

Chief Vernon Coakley says officers responded to an altercation at a local business, which led to three Hispanic males being escorted out of the establishment by security.

Coakley says a conversation with an officer took place in which one person said, “America is run by white people, and they don’t give an F about Black and Brown people.”

The officer involved replied by saying, “The good thing about America is you can cross the border at any time,” Chief Coakley quoted, who says the officer self-reported the exchange, and an investigation started soon after.

Coakley says the officer was disciplined and was provided additional training.

Chief Coakley was joined by Diversion, Equity and Inclusion Director Dorla Bonner, who says the City of Kalamazoo is endeavoring to become more diverse and equitable, citing the creation of her department as an example.

Bonner says an assessment was conducted within the City’s staff, which she says will help establish where the organization is on diversity, equity and inclusion, adding it will help in the City’s future development.

“I want to apologize for this incident,” Chief Coakley said. “This is not our finest hour, and the officer’s conduct was in violation of internal policies designed to prevent such situations.”

“In KDPS, we provide our officers with training on a wide range of topics,” Chief Coakley continues, “including ethics, de-escalation, unconscious biases, and fair and impartial policing. We remain committed to ensure our community is safe for all residents, business owners and visitors.”

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