Grand Rapids, 911 and People Of Color
Grand Rapids is calling it the “bias crime reporting prohibition” and they could soon be voting on it.
MLive is reporting about the city of Grand Rapids concern of citizen’s racially profiling people of color when calling 911 for people who are “participating in their lives.” The “bias crime reporting prohibition” as they call it is one of a few adjustments they would like to make to the city code as part of the proposed human rights ordinance. The other changes include:
- expanded protected class definitions
- identifying four primary potential areas of discrimination
- and an outline of the referral and compliance process
If this ordinance is passed a violation would be punishable by up to a $500 fine per day that the violation occurs and those cases would be prosecuted by the city attorney’s office. With this proposal is the city of Grand Rapids looking to make more of their citizen’s law or ordinance breakers? I am sure that many of these calls originate from good intentions, not everyone is a bigot.
Jeremy DeRoo, executive director of the non-profit advocacy group LINC Up stated:
We in the community have had various conversations over the last few years about disparities that exist in Grand Rapids…The human rights ordinance provides the infrastructure so that all these issues have a backbone supporting and addressing them. It creates a way to address a broad range of problems and to correct them.
Mr. DeRoo went on to say:
Often times, the Grand Rapids Police Department ends up being caught in the middle of what is a bigger community problem,” DeRoo said. “They look bad because they approach individuals who are people of color, and it appears the police department is biased when really they’re responding to phone calls made by the community and it appears that a number of those are motivated by people in a discriminatory way.
As an example Mr. DeRoo cited “a summer 2017 gathering in Mulick Park in which police were called to break up a large gathering of African American community members. Multiple patrol vehicles were sent to the park before it was determined that it was a graduation party”.
Patti Caudill, Grand Rapids Diversity and Inclusion Manager said the ordinance is a new concept in Michigan. Ms. Caudill wants us to know that this ordinance is not meant to discourage 911 calls but to make people “check their biases” before calling the police.
My first thought when I read about Ms. Caudill in the article was; the city of Grand Rapids has a Diversity and Inclusion Manager, really! How can this be a full time job in the city and how much are the citizens of Grand Rapids paying for that position.
Does color really matter when people are attempting to participate in their lives? If you are going to make an ordinance such as this one why bring color into the equation. Why not just open up the ordinance to anyone of any race and let the city attorneys sort it out?