Grand Rapids Police Civilian Appeals Board creates new form to prompt additional investigations

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A new form will streamline the process for cases brought to the civilian appeals board and referred to the labor relations unit. The Civilian Appeals Board is a body that reviews findings from the Grand Rapids Police Department’s Internal Affairs Unit. Each year, there are about 20 eligible appeals. 

Brandon Davis, the board liaison and the director of oversight and public accountability, said during the Oct. 20th meeting that the form will be used when the board finds that the Internal Affairs Unit’s case record is inadequate to complete reviewing a pending appeals case. There’s a space for the OPA to summarize what it heard related to the rationale for supplemental investigations, he said.

“In order to make sure that this process is run smoothly the form is very similar to the one that’s used when the board comes to a conclusion on a case,” Davis said. “It’s been modified to reflect the additional investigation.”

For Davis’ explanation of the form, click here.

The form submission process

Davis said the form will be submitted to the chair of the civilian appeals board and sent to the labor relations department within 48 hours of when the chairperson signs it. Meeting minutes and a link to the livestream will be attached to the form for the labor relations unit, he said.

The minutes attached should reflect the general feelings of the board, Davis said.

“The purpose of this form is to clarify what the request is and to inform the labor relations unit,” Davis said. 

Davis predicts most investigations will take between 30 to 60 days. Once the labor relations unit completes its investigation, the final report will be placed on the agenda for the next civilian appeals board meeting, he said.

The process for additional investigations. Created by Kristia Postema. Information obtained from the City of Grand Rapids website.

The board’s role

Huemartin Robinson II, the chairperson of the civilian appeals board, said he would like the board to review the form before it is submitted to labor relations.

“If it’s not in line with what we’re looking for from the additional investigation then we can modify it,” Robinson said.

The process allows the civilian appeals board to bring the form to the next meeting for discussion if there are concerns, but it may delay the investigation, Davis said. A special meeting can also be called to discuss the form, he said.

Phillip Strom, the deputy city attorney, said the chairperson and board members should collaborate to draft the minutes to ensure accuracy.

“This is a fairly new procedure that hasn’t been implemented so it’s good to think about hypotheticals,” he said.

Informing the public

Michelle Williams, a member of the civilian board of appeals, said the form will help the public understand why the board submits specific cases for additional investigation in a “written and formal fashion.”

“The components of the form will give us a good opportunity to make sure our voices are heard publicly,” Williams said. “I appreciate the process.”

Meeting wrap-up

Additionally, the board discussed the status of its annual report. Robinson selected board members Russell Olmsted and Briana Trudell to the ad hoc committee for the annual report.

Robinson said there are no appeals pending for the November meeting, so he will cancel the meeting to give Olmsted and Trudell time to work on the annual report.

To view the livestream from this meeting, click here.

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