The Michigan Department of Civil Rights Investigating 23 Complaints of Discrimination against the Grand Rapids Police Department

Contact: Vicki Levengood 517-242-0236

Lansing, MI—On Tuesday, May 7, the Michigan Department of Civil Rights (MDCR) held a news conference in Grand Rapids to announce that MDCR is currently reviewing and/or investigating 23 complaints of discrimination against the Grand Rapids Police Department (GRPD).

The announcement follows two listening sessions held in Grand Rapids on March 28 to hear from residents about their interactions with and concerns related to the GRPD.  The Department heard from more than 80 individuals and a number of others submitted comments in writing.

“We have an obligation under law to neutrally investigate all complaints of discrimination that fall under our jurisdiction,” said MDCR Director Agustin V. Arbulu. “In addition to investigating each complaint on its individual merits, we will be reviewing the complaints from a broader perspective to see if there is evidence of a pattern and practice of systemic discrimination.”

Michigan law prohibits discrimination in the areas of employment, education, housing, public accommodation, public service and law enforcement. The discrimination must be based on race, religion, color, national origin, age, sex, disability, genetic information, marital status, familial status, height, weight, and arrest record.

If a complaint of discrimination is filed on any of the areas and bases covered under law, and within 180 days of the incident, MDCR has jurisdiction and the complaint is assigned to an investigator.

During an investigation, the claimant and respondent both have the opportunity to present evidence. MDCR attempts to resolve complaints at all stages of the investigation. If no settlement is reached, MDCR will complete the investigation and report on its findings. Possible outcomes include:

  • Dismissal: Insufficient evidence found to support a discrimination charge.
  • Conciliation: If sufficient evidence of discrimination is found, MDCR will encourage the respondent to take action to address the discrimination and prevent it from happening again. If a satisfactory resolution is reached, the complaint is closed.
  • Charge: If sufficient evidence of discrimination is found, MDCR will encourage the respondent to take action to address the discrimination and prevent it from happening again. If a satisfactory resolution is reached, the complaint is closed. If sufficient evidence of discrimination is found and the responded refuses to address the situation in conciliation, MDCR will issue a formal charge of discrimination and proceed administratively including scheduling a formal hearing.  A hearing officer will conduct a formal hearing on the discrimination charge. All witnesses testify under oath, the rules of evidence apply and all parties have the right to cross examine witnesses. The hearing officer will issue their recommendation on whether discrimination took place and what the appropriate penalty should be.
  • Commission Review: The Michigan Civil Rights Commission will review the proposed findings and allow parties to argue whether they should be adopted. The Commission will then issue a final determination and will either dismiss the case or find discrimination and issue corrective action that may include ordering monetary damages to the claimant.
  • Circuit Court Review: A claimant or responded who does not agree with the Commission’s final determination and order may appeal to the circuit court for review of the case.

Filing a discrimination complaint with the Department of Civil Rights does not prevent a claimant from taking legal action in a court of law.

The Michigan Department of Civil Rights, the operational arm of the Michigan Civil Rights Commission, is charged with investigating and resolving discrimination complaints and working to prevent discrimination through educational programs that promote voluntary compliance with civil rights laws. The Department also provides information and services to businesses on diversity initiatives and equal employment law. For more information on the Michigan Department of Civil Rights, go to www.michigan.gov/mdcr.

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