Citizens board will help pick KDPS protest response investigator

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — The city of Kalamazoo is counting on the Citizens Public Safety Review and Appeal Board for its support in the process of overseeing an independent investigation into law enforcement’s response to recent protests.  

During a virtual meeting Tuesday evening, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Director Dorla Bonner asked the citizens review board to be part of the process, including hiring.

The independent investigator will specifically review the city’s response to the protests and civil unrest between May 30 and June 2 following the death of George Floyd at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer.

“We really want to get this done sooner than later when people’s memories are strong because part of the investigation will be interviewing folks who participated in the protest,” Bonner said. “We want to be true to our word to the community that we take this seriously and that we want to find out and make sure that our public safety department acted appropriately.”  

The board’s vice chair Nathan Dannison emphasized the importance of public input in hiring.

“Trust between not only the department of public safety but the leadership of the city government has been shaken by these events,” Dannison said. “I think we would be naive to assume that the citizens would place their full trust in the hire of an investigator who was hand-picked by the city, so I commend you on bringing this to us.” 

Vernon Payne, the board chair, added that it will also be important for the investigator to look at institutional issues. 

“Across the country, we have these problems at all our police departments big and small,” Payne said. “So what is it about police departments that allow for this behavior to continue? Culture eats policy for breakfast.” 

The board went on to cover a number of topics. Click here to watch the full meeting.