Allegations of racist behavior involving at least one officer in the Grosse Pointe Park Public Safety Department have drawn sharp criticism and launched an internal investigation.
The allegations came to light following an online report and video clips published earlier this month by the Motor City Muckraker. In that report, journalist Steve Neavling said he had received video clips reportedly shot by Park officers of black men. That report states that the clips were forwarded to friends and relatives of the officer or officers.
Park Public Safety Captain David Loch said he wasn’t able to comment on the allegations, but the department did release a statement that reads as follows:
“On Thursday, Nov. 14, 2013, the Grosse Pointe Park Public Safety Department was contacted by an individual who said he was in possession of video clips and a photo of African-American males. The video clips and photo are allegedly made by an officer of this department. The department has begun an internal investigation of this matter.
“The Grosse Pointe Park Public Safety Department does not tolerate unprofessional conduct by its officers when interacting with any citizen they may come in contact with.”
State Rep. Alberta Tinsley-Talabi, D-Detroit, whose district includes the Park, released her own statement Nov. 20 in response to the charges of racist conduct.
“Using one’s position of authority to intimidate any person, especially a mentally challenged minority, is repulsive,” Tinsley-Talabi said. “Using that authority to the point of forcing them to sing or act like an animal — a hateful action directly related to the Jim Crow era — cannot be condoned for one second.”
A man on video is said to be "mentally ill" in a Motor City Muckraker story. In one of the videos, the subject is told to "go ahead, do your, do your song."
“Along with the Grosse Pointe Park community and citizens across the district, I am calling for a prompt and unbiased investigation into these acts,” Tinsley-Talabi stated in her release. “I expect immediate and direct action to be taken, and I call on everyone to end the toleration of hate.”
Contrary to some reports, the Michigan State Police has not been called upon to undertake an independent investigation into the matter.
“Michigan State Police is not involved in any criminal investigation in Grosse Pointe Park,” said Lt. Michael A. Shaw, public information officer for the MSP.
If, at some point, Park Public Safety officials determine that criminal action might have occurred and they wanted MSP to potentially get involved, Shaw said MSP could consider taking action then. He said Park officials did contact MSP following reports about the alleged racial incidents.
“Right now, there is no independent investigation (by the MSP),” Shaw said. “There was some discussions back and forth, but we’re not involved at all.”
It was not known at press time when Park officials might complete their investigation.