This follow story is a sad case of mistaken identity and being at the wrong place at the wrong time.
Footage of an incident involving a group of kids being stopped by police on March 24 in Grand Rapids, Michigan captured by police body cameras is gathering national attention. Once again, the conversation regarding the relationship between police and the African American community has been brought to light.
According to KTLA:
Five boys, ages 12 to 14, were walking home from the Salvation Army Kroc Center on Division Avenue after playing basketball when they were stopped by police. They allegedly matched a description given by a witness that believed he had seen one of them with a gun.
Grand Rapids police approached the teens with guns drawn, ordering them to the ground, searching them one by one and cuffing and apprehending two of the boys. Police say the officers did nothing wrong and were following protocol.
When no gun was found, the boys were released to their parents with a full explanation of what happened. Grand Rapids Police Chief David Rahinsky met with the teens, preteens and their parents to explain the policy and discuss any of their concerns.
Rahinsky apologized publicly at a city commission meeting, but the police unions said that police policy was not going to change.
The police chief held public office hours Friday for any resident who wanted to discuss police issues.
“In the name of context and transparency, I would say that the police chief and on-scene officers handled this the best way possible.”
“The officers’ response was measured, it was appropriate, it was professional in regards to responding to information about young people with a gun,” Rahinsky told WXMI Friday. “I appreciate that there’s an emotional response to having seen that. If that’s my child, my son, I would feel very similar.”
“No one comes to work in this police department with anything other than the best of intentions. So now through training, through dialogue, through inspection, there’s a reason it’s called implicit bias and it’s not unique to Grand Rapids, it’s not unique to police work, these are societal, systemic issues,” he said.