(WXYZ) - Grosse Pointe Park's police chief and mayor are among community leaders signing a memo of understanding with state and federal officials to reform the Public Safety Department.
This follows an incident in November when an African American man was goaded into making humiliating noises that was recorded on a cell phone. Another cell phone picture and text said, "got to love the coloreds".
Chief David Hiller suggested the incident may have slipped by him.
"I'm the old guy. I thought telephones were for phone calls. we now know that they're not. they're used for other things. the younger generation today sometimes forgets what they're doing, the importance where they're at when they're wearing that uniform, who they represent, the city, the businesses and so forth," Chief Hiller said.
7 Action News Investigator Jim Kiertzner asked the man in the videos, Michael Sipieo in November, "did the officer tell you to make that noise? "They were saying all kinds of stuff, but I didn't know what they were talking about," Sipieo replied.
Today's signing included a small business owner who is black, Marcia Fairrow, who said, "this is not just an upper class or white community that comes in and tells people you can't come in or you're not invited or that kind of stuff. This is really a melting pot right here."
Father Tim Pelc of the St. Ambrose Catholic Church was also part of the event and he said, "as awkward and as painful as some of these things are to say, they need to be said over and over again."
The department is all white with 36 sworn officers and one female. The chief says hiring is an open process and could include diversity in the future. 5 police officers were suspended after the incident in November. The additional measures include:
- Reorganizing patrol officers so beat officers have new supervisors and partners
- Reassigning supervising officers
- Increasing training for all officers dealing with people with mental illness
- Increasing cultural sensitivity and awareness training particularly for people with disabilities
- Reinforcing the department's policies on social and electronic media
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