Justice

Kalamazoo public safety chief was fired, didn’t resign

The city admits embattled public safety chief Karianne Thomas was fired in September, but they pretended she resigned.

Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety Chief Karianne Thomas was fired by the city in September, according to a report on MLive. That likely comes as a surprise to many because city officials announced she had retired of her own accord.

Thomas stepped down from KDPS September 30, being replaced immediately by Assistant Chief Vernon Coakley. Kalamazoo Mayor David Anderson has described her decision to leave as “mutual” and other city leaders have declined to say whether she was forced to resign.

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It turns out Thomas was formally terminated without cause, which means she will be able to receive a year of severance pay. Thomas will also be able to draw on her retirement plan, earned as a result of her 27 years with the department.

Thomas came under fire over the summer for spearheading the city’s chaotic response to protests and rallies in the city. In May and June, KDPS responded to Black Lives Matter protests with riot gear and pepper spray. Conversely, police responded to a racist rally in August by taking a “hands-off” approach until violence broke out.

Kalamazoo residents are confused by city leaders’ decision to portray her departure as a mutual decision when it clearly wasn’t.

“I think it’s odd they tried to cover it up, like it was a resignation,” said activist Quinton Bryant.

Meanwhile, a contractor hired by the city is investigating KDPS’ response to protests. They are seeking eyewitnesses who can help fill in details about the events.

You can read the full story here.

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