GROSSE POINTE PARK (WWJ) – Grosse Pointe Park police are pledging to improve relations with people with disabilities after officers were caught on video tape mocking a mentally challenged black man.
Grosse Point Park police chief David Hiller on Wednesday joined with other city leaders in signing a letter of understanding with the U.S. Justice Department and the Michigan Department of Civil Rights, promising to do more in diversity training for its officers.
The city says it will develop a training program to improve cultural awareness and customer service, regardless of someone’s race or disability.
In addition, the city has issued a proclamation pledging to “respect and treat with dignity all persons, resident or visitor – regardless of race, color, national origin, gender, gender identity, religion or disability – in all aspects of community life or service.”
The chief says this, along with structural changes in the department, will address the problems that arose last fall.
“We rearranged all of the supervisors that we involved. We reorganized all the shifts We split up groups of guys that were getting a little too comfortable with each other,” Hiller explained.
Five officers were suspended from the department last November after a video surfaces showing an officer urging a 55-year-old Michael Scipio of Detroit to sing and make animal noises.
City officials said officer recorded the videos while others viewed them and didn’t notify bosses.
The officers involved remain on probation until late this year.
“I applaud Chief Hiller for working cooperatively with federal and state agencies to continue improving our city’s policing efforts. I am hopeful our proclamation affirming our commitment to treat all people with dignity and respect further crystalizes our support of human and civil rights for everyone,” said Mayor Heenan, in a statement. “Grosse Pointe Park is a safe and welcoming community committed to the highest standards of public service.”
It wasn’t immediately clear when the expanded training would begin.