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Title: Police culture questioned after phone recordings come to light
Source: M Live
URL Source: http://www.mlive.com/news/grand-rap ... idation.html#incart_river_home
Published: Sep 15, 2017
Author: Justin P. Hicks
Post Date: 2017-09-15 10:09:17 by Deckard
Keywords: None
Views: 82
Comments: 4

GRAND RAPIDS, MI -- Police officers' actions detailed in audio recordings released this week did not surprise Lyonel LaGrone, who grew up in Southeast Grand Rapids.

He says the police-call recordings from the November night when a former prosecutor crashed his car only validated his belief that unequal treatment by police exists.

During the five recorded conversations, then-police Lt. Matthew Janiskee appears to coach officer Adam Ickes and then-Sgt. Thomas Warwick through the investigation into a wrong-way crash involving former assistant prosecutor Josh Kuiper. 

"Before I even knew it was called third-party review, even in high school, we said police shouldn't investigate police," LaGrone said. "This just validates what we've been saying for a long time. Certain groups of people get arrested for cite-able offenses and then when certain people get stopped for arrest-able offenses, (police) find a way to let them slide."

LaGrone, a liaison for a local advocacy group LINC Up, took his response to the police recordings a step further, calling 2017 a year of "exposure and validation for the minority community." He referenced a traffic study that found black drivers in Grand Rapids are stopped twice as often as white drivers, as well as body camera footage of five unarmed black youths being stopped at gunpoint by police.

Each situation, he said, exemplified the alleged harassment and unequal treatment that some members of the public receive on a regular basis, while others -- such as public figures and other police -- get special treatment.

Grand Rapids police calls on line 3407

"We're in a period of validation," LaGrone said. "The time's over for trying to say it doesn't exist anymore. Now we have to talk about what's going to be done about it."

'Let's pass him:' Cops discuss ex-prosecutor's intoxication on recorded calls

'Let's pass him:' Cops discuss ex-prosecutor's intoxication on recorded calls

The state Court of Appeals ordered Grand Rapids to release the recordings taken from a "non-recorded line" in response to MLive lawsuit.

The city's release of five recorded phone conversations between a shift commander and two police officers came after an MLive/The Grand Rapids Press request for the files under the Freedom of Information Act was denied. The state Court of Appeals sided with MLive on Tuesday, resulting in Wednesday's release of the recordings.

On the recordings, the officers voiced concern about Kuiper being intoxicated and discussed attempts to minimize the incident by taking Kuiper home and only citing him for the wrong-way crash. 

"If that or less hypothetically happens to a black man, he's going to jail 99 percent of the time," LaGrone said. "This is what we've been saying. Even though they're all one race in this incident ... this guy was doing something wrong and they figured out how to get him off. And people are upset about that."

An investigation into the incident resulted in the firing of Janiskee, the demotion of Warwick to patrol officer and the suspensions of Warwick and Ickes for 160 hours each.

Meanwhile, Kuiper, who was orignially given a traffic ticket for driving the wrong way, was ordered by Allegan County District Judge Joseph Skocelas to stand trial on a charge of reckless driving causing serious impairment of a body function. 

In a statement responding to the Wednesday release of the recordings, Mayor Rosalynn Bliss denounced the incident and praised the city's leadership for its actions once the case's handling was investigated. 

"This is very disappointing and does not reflect the men and women of our police department," Bliss said. "I commend the city manager and police chief for taking swift and decisive action."

Police Chief David Rahinsky previously called the incident "appalling" and "a punch to the gut" of the department's credibility. He spoke about transparency and accountability being guiding principles for the department, yet some community leaders have said the delayed release show different priorities. 

Recordings a 'punch to the gut' for police credibility, chief says

Recordings a 'punch to the gut' for police credibility, chief says

"The whole incident is appalling," Grand Rapids Police Chief David Rahinsky said about the department's handling of a Nov. 2016 crash involving former prosecutor Josh Kuiper.

Jeremy DeRoo, director of LINC Up, called the situation a missed opportunity for trust-building because the city declined to release the transcripts on their own accord. 

"In reality the mistrust is already there," he said. "By acknowledging what's going on and dealing with it, that's how you build trust. By ignoring it is how you further mistrust. The only way to rebuild that trust is to have dialogue, to increase the transparency.

"Not releasing the transcripts, not being fully transparent doesn't allow the healing process to begin. And that has to be rooted in truth."

While DeRoo acknowledged that actions were taken as a result of the police investiation, he said members of the community should have a voice, direct or indirect, in that decision-making process.

In his eyes, that means analyzing and restructing the city's civilian appeals board or public safety committee to allow their members to have a say in internal investigations and resulting consequences. 

"The public safety committee should be the city's structure in place to ensure more than just police are holding police accountable," DeRoo said. "How well are we utilizing that? This ought to be more than a police department conversation."

The civilain appeals board is made up of nine residents, appointed by the city commission, who can review cases before seding their conclusion to the city manager, who determines disciplinary action. The board has no jurisdiction to impose punishment. 

The public safety committee is a group made up of city commissioners and residents, which meets monthly, or at the call of the committee. Its purpose is to make recommendations on all matters concerning public safety. 

Other issues that DeRoo said still need to be discussed publicly are the department's body camera policy, and how officers are held accountable. He referenced a portion of the police recordings in which the officers only seem worried about what might have been caught on Ickes' body camera, and the liklihood that someone would review it.

"What happened on the audio is an example of the cultural problems that exist within the police department," DeRoo said.

"A significant portion of the mistrust that exists between the community and police is not about the policy and procedures -- what's allowed and not allowed -- it's about the culture that underlies the institution and leadership is responsible for shifting that culture to maximize the benefit of the public good. That's still the ulitmate work that needs to be done."

For Allison Colberg, director of the faith-based advocacy group The Micah Center, the recordings were "extraordinarily disheartening" and set back the community's ability to trust its police department. 

"It made me sick to my stomach," Colberg said. "To see an incident like this happen deeply violates so many of our values of transparency, serving, protecting and fairness, regardless of people's skin color or standing in the community." (2 images)

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#1. To: Deckard (#0)

In a statement responding to the Wednesday release of the recordings, Mayor Rosalynn Bliss denounced the incident and praised the city's leadership for its actions once the case's handling was investigated.

"This is very disappointing and does not reflect the men and women of our police department," Bliss said.

Hey, lying bitch, it obviously did reflect the values of your PD.

Tooconservative  posted on  2017-09-15   10:22:20 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


#2. To: Tooconservative (#1)

Hey, lying bitch, it obviously did reflect the values of your PD.

What she meant was, it doesn't reflect the values that she and the PD leadership falsely project to the public.

Pinguinite  posted on  2017-09-15   11:11:00 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


#3. To: Deckard (#0)

He spoke about transparency and accountability being guiding principles for the department, yet some community leaders have said the delayed release show different priorities.

All too true. They have proven themselves a corrupt outfit.

Pinguinite  posted on  2017-09-15   11:13:18 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


#4. To: Pinguinite (#2)

What she meant was, it doesn't reflect the values that she and the PD leadership falsely project to the public.

Well, why didn't she just say so forthrightly? LOL

Tooconservative  posted on  2017-09-15   11:39:50 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


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