Grand Rapids Police Civilian Appeal Board releases two-year report

Published on September 18, 2018

Photo of a Grand Rapids Police Civilian Appeal Board meeting

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – The Grand Rapids Police Civilian Appeal Board (CAB) today released a report of its 2016 and 2017 activities, which included the adoption of bylaws, an educational effort to ensure community members know how to access the board and the police department’s Internal Affairs Unit and a total of four appeal hearings, among other highlights. The group plans to release annual reports in the future.

“The past two years have been full of growth and introspection,” CAB chairperson Huemartin Robinson II said. “It is our hope and mission that, when the need arises, residents will see this board as an effective tool where their concerns may be heard by their peers.”

The nine-member CAB was established by the City Commission in 1996 to review the findings of the IA Unit, which looks into citizen concerns about the actions of GRPD employees. CAB is responsible for reviewing IA findings on complaints of:

  • Use of excessive force
  • Falsification and lying
  • Civil rights violations
  • Hostility, discourtesy or other conduct unbecoming of a police officer when such conduct is committed in a context of animosity or prejudice based on race, color, religion, gender, sexual orientation or national originIn 2016-17, a total of 33 IA investigations were eligible for appeal and review by CAB. The board received and heard a total of four appeals. In all four cases, CAB affirmed the IA findings, which included unfounded, not sustained and exonerated. The cases included complaints of improper traffic stop, falsification/lying, racial profiling, civil rights violation and improper search. The full report is available HERE.

CAB can affirm, reverse or modify the findings of the IA Unit. It also can send a case to the City’s Labor Relations Department to conduct additional interviews or gather more information. CAB cannot impose or recommend disciplinary actions.

The board’s bylaws spell out its duties and responsibilities, which include:

  • Encouraging compliance with rules and regulations concerning the conduct of police officers during interactions with citizens
  • Encouraging individuals who believe they have been mistreated by police officers to use GRPD’s internal complaint process to have the officers’ conduct reviewed
  • Creating a process that fairly evaluates the conduct of everyone involved to determine whether a breach of department rules and regulations has occurred
  • Giving the community a sense of confidence that it has a voice in reviewing the actions of police officers

The entire bylaws document is available HERE.

The newly released report also highlights the “Citizen Complaint Procedure” brochure that has been widely distributed in the community and is available on the City’s website in English and Spanish. The pamphlet provides information on how citizens can file complaints about any Grand Rapids Police Department (GRPD) employee, the department’s Internal Affairs (IA) Unit and its investigation process. An online complaint form is available HERE.

“As we work toward a more educated and inclusive city, it is our mission to represent the residents of this great city with open minds and hearts that cry for justice for all,” Robinson said.

CAB is comprised of all Grand Rapids residents, who serve two-year terms. CAB members are appointed by the mayor and city commissioners. For more information or to apply for the board, CLICK HERE.