GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — The Office of Oversight and Public Accountability was formed in 2019 to serve as a bridge between the public and public safety departments in Grand Rapids.
The office is working to address the Patrick Lyoya shooting and what led up to it.
"The goal of the Office of Oversight and Public Accountability is to increase trust, but that's through increasing accountability and transparency," said Brandon Davis, director of the Office of Oversight and Public Accountability. "We're doing everything in our power to make sure the investigation is handled properly, that the investigation is thorough, that the investigation is efficient. But that doesn't take away the human emotion that says this is tragic."
Davis was appointed to the position in 2020.
Many would say the office is desperately needed after years of racial bias complaints that have strained police/community relations.
Davis called the Lyoya incident, where a 26-year-old man was shot in the head by an officer while lying facedown, the "most certainly worst-case scenario."
"As a Black man, when we look at these type of instances and see a Black person, especially a Black man dying at the hands of police, it's always going to bring back traumatic feelings given the history of our country. And although I'm oversight professional, that doesn't take away the humanity that I feel when I see these type of instances," he said. "There's been a great deal of feedback. And let's just call it what it is. There's been a lot of anger, a lot of frustration, a lot of 'Why are we in this space?' And I think all of those responses are fair. It would be unreasonable to expect people not to be angry about an incident like this. That anger, those feelings of frustration ... They're real, and then we need to listen to them."
The Lyoya shooting is a chance for the office to continue focus on which policies/systems need to change, while continuing to push for accountability and transparency.
"I do see this as a necessary point for us to re-examine what's happening ... This is the point where we do need to look at policy; we do need to look at procedure; we do need to evaluate every part of what occurred to make sure it's the way it should occur, right? And we need to look at say, 'Why did this happen the way it happened? And what can we do to try to prevent it from happening that way?'"
He continued, "We recognize that no, the issues that we see in Grand Rapids are not unique to Grand Rapids. They're issues that apply all over the country. But we want to make sure that Grand Rapids is a place where all people feel safe and are safe. We didn't just put that in the city's strategic plan for no reason. That's something that's important to us; it's something that's important to the Office of Oversight. Public accountability is something that's important to me, and we're working to make that happen."
You can reach out to the Office of Oversight and Public Accountability at OPA@grcity.us or visit the webpage here.