Justice

Investigators recommend changes for Kzoo police

Independent investigators have released a long-awaited report on police mishandling of protests and rallies in Kalamazoo last summer.

The Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety (KDPS) refused to admit it made any mistakes in its handling of Black Lives Matter protests and a Proud Boys rally over the summer of 2020. That’s despite some questionable actions taken by officers during those events.

That’s one of the take-aways of a report released Friday by the OIR Group following months of investigation.

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KDPS officers pepper sprayed peaceful protesters during BLM protests in May and June of 2020. That raised the ire of city residents. But many were outraged when KDPS took a hands-off approach to a rally by the racist Proud Boys group. Fights broke out twice during that rally before police got involved. They then arrested a journalist, a legal observer, and several city residents while allowing members of the Proud Boys to leave peacefully.

In investigating the twin events, the OIR Group heard from members of the public as well as representatives from KDPS. However, the report states, there was “a conspicuous lack of self-criticism or even self-questioning” by KDPS.

KDPS also refused to fully cooperate with investigators, withholding requested documents from them.

Despite the stonewalling, the report does offer some recommendations for how the department can improve going forward.

A list of 40 recommendations includes:

  • Enforcing the use of body cameras among officers
  • Keeping track of “less lethal munitions,” such as tear gas and pepper spray
  • Revising policies on the use of force

The OIR Group will give a formal presentation to the Kalamazoo City Commission and the Citizens Public Safety Review and Appeals Board during a virtual meeting Tuesday evening. The meeting will begin at 6pm and be livestreamed on Facebook, YouTube, and Public Media Network.

[MLive, WWMT]

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