Citizens Police Review Board Minutes 02-28-2022

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                                 CITY OF MUSKEGON
                           CITIZEN’S POLICE REVIEW BOARD
                                       Minutes
DATE OF MEETING:               Monday, February 28, 2022

PLACE OF MEETING:              Muskegon City Hall – Room 103

BOARD MEMBERS PRESENT:         Ann Craig, Josie James, Faye Redmond, Ron Hayward, Chairman William
                               Muhammad

BOARD MEMBERS ABSENT:          Ruby Clark, Rozelia Patino, Robert Roundtree

STAFF PRESENT:                 Ryan Cummins - CPRB Staff Liaison, Jeffrey Lewis - Public Safety Director


The meeting was called to order at 6:35pm by Chairman Muhammad. Roll call was taken and a quorum
was present.

Approval of Minutes
The December 16, 2021 Regular Meeting minutes were reviewed. No board members had any changes
and the minutes were approved.

Unfinished Business

CPRB Pamphlet
The board was provided with final copies of the CPRB pamphlet to hand out.

Law Enforcement Professional – Vacancy
Chairman Muhammad reminded the board that Mr. Bukala has moved out of state and resigned from
the board. There are currently no applicants for the open law enforcement professional position on the
board. Chairman Muhammad advised the position cannot be filled by a current or past Muskegon Police
professional to prevent conflicts of interests. F. Redmond asked if the position could be filled by
someone from a federal or state law enforcement agency and she was advised it can be. It was
discussed that its best to have the Community Relations Committee recruit for the open position versus
the police department. R. Cummins advised that preference will be given to applicants who reside in the
City but the City Commission could appoint someone who resides outside the City due to the special
requirements of the position.

New Business

Questions for Director Lewis
Director Lewis was present for the meeting to take questions from the CPRB.
Director Lewis confirmed he is retiring from the Department of Public Safety on April 30. He stated he is
willing to stay on daily or weekly to ensure there is a stable transition to a new Director.

Director Lewis advised he supports the CPRB. He stated having the CPRB helps with transparency and
the police department wants to do the right thing. Director Lewis advised the department was recently
accredited. He explained this was a year and a half process and ensures policies and procedures have
been standardized, legally vetted, and updated regularly. At the time of accreditation, the police
department was 1 of 33 in the entire state to meet accreditation standards.

Director Lewis further advised that the department is not perfect, but aims to be the best they can be.
Director Lewis stated that its best to talk when there are problems and work towards a resolution.
Director Lewis committed to providing the CPRB with everything the department has unless it is against
the law to share it.

Director Lewis advised the department has had a lot of retirements and resignations. As a result, they
have negotiated a new contract with the officers which includes a higher pay scale to retain and recruit
officers. They have been focusing on hiring diverse officers. Director Lewis discussed some of the
challenges with recruiting members of the community to become police officers and programs in place
to reduce these barriers.

Director Lewis stated that complaints against officers tells him what is going on. He advised the
department takes complaints online, through the Clerk’s Office, City Manager, and on paper. Complaints
can be in person and can also be anonymous. He stated complaints can also be made on someone else’s
behalf.

F. Redmond asked about the process to fill his position. Director Lewis stated the City is currently
accepting applications for the new Public Safety Director and they are due by March 11. The City
administration has advertised through MLive, the Chief’s Association, and other forums. The City
Administration will be conducting a review and selecting the next Director.

J. James asked whether the CPRB was part of the accreditation process. Director Lewis advised it was
not specifically as it is not part of every department. He explained the CPRB has an advisory function per
the City ordinance and is not a reviewer of everyday functions of the department. Director Lewis felt the
name of the CPRB is somewhat misleading as the role is to review complaints only. Director Lewis
advised the reviews and current process works. He explained how the complaint against former officer,
Charles Anderson, was an example of the process working. He stated the City Commission and citizens
provide support for decisions. Director Lewis advised three senior officers have been terminated since
his time with the department.

F. Redmon asked about the process for bylaw changes. Director Lewis suggested talking with the chair of
the CRC committee, Commissioner Ramsey. J. James wondered who else handles bylaw changes.
Director Lewis advised the City Attorney and CPRB Chairman are also involved. He advised it depends on
what the board wishes to accomplish. He stated he has not heard the status of any changes in a couple
months. J. James advised it would be good to know who is part of proposed changes to know if there is
diversity.

Chairman Muhammad explained he has been on the CPRB since its beginning and the CPRB is a semi-
independent body. He advised in 1997 there were significant issues and the police department was
viewed as an occupying force versus a protecting and serving force. As a result, there were civil service
changes. There was also a memorandum of understanding created between five minority-based
coalitions, the US Justice Department, and City which created the CPRB. He noted two of the minority-
based coalitions no longer function which led to some minor changes to the bylaws.

Chairman Muhammad stated that in order to formally look at bylaw changes, the minority coalitions
would need to come back together with the City to decide on changes. He stated there has been a group
of people meeting informally to bring suggestions to the City and minority coalitions. He advised they
have looked at other board structures across the country. J. James asked who was meeting informally
and Chairman Muhammad advised that similar to his past comments, he was not going to reveal their
names because he did not have their permission. He stated a formal process will be followed to review
suggestions and decide on actual changes.

Director Lewis added he does not know who is involved in the informal meetings. He stated the
department would also review any proposed changes and make recommendations before a full City
Commission review. Director Lewis stated he is the hired expert in law enforcement. He explained that
police work is very different now than in earlier times. He advised the profession has learned and
evolved. He stated it is important that the CPRB have a good set of bylaws for review.

F. Redmond expressed concern that the complaint disposition report has four options that appear to
sound as if a citizen’s thoughts do not matter. F. Redmond added that she has had good personal
experiences with the department, but trusts that other have not and feels the department can do
better. F. Redmond stated she feels a more responsive review process with citizen involvement is
needed.

Director Lewis stated sometimes complaints arise that do not rise to the level of discipline. However, all
complaints are tracked in a system called Guardian which is able to provide warnings to him if there are
patterns or concerning trends.

Director Lewis advised discipline has to be done fairly. The department follows all civil service rules and
union contracts, which require progress discipline. He stated if discipline is overdone or not done
properly, it can be overturned by arbitrators. Director Lewis provided examples.

Chairman Muhammad advised that he estimates 60% of complaints are about treatment of individuals
and how someone is talked to or how the interaction was. He stated he views complaints for patterns
with officers.

A.Craig stated the internal affairs complaint process can help the complainant gain understanding and a
greater perspective.
Director Lewis stated the department has done a lot of training on how to talk to people. He provided
examples.

J. James asked if police encounters are tracked by race and sex. She also wondered if the data is
reviewed. Director Lewis advised the information is tracked for tickets and is reviewed. He stated
instead of spending resources on studies, it is best to use the funds to focus on training. Director Lewis
explained that all officers have bias as human beings and training on this is important. He explained that
officer discretion is a good thing. J. James advised she wasn’t sure she agreed.

The CPRB thanked Director Lewis for attending their meeting. Director Lewis advised he is grateful to
the community for allowing him to serve for ten years. He stated Muskegon is a great down.

Internal Affairs Complaints
The board reviewed internal affairs complaints received and completed since the last meeting. No
appeals have been received.

J. James advised the ten-business day language on the receipt of complaint and complaint disposition
report was not the same. R. Cummins advised he would check on it.

Public Comment

Sarah Ebibon – GVSU Student – Ms. Ebibon advised she is a Grand Valley legal studies/criminal justice
student. She stated she was observing the CPRB for a research methods class. She stated she also found
the name of the board to be confusing. She advised she thought more citizens would come in for
complaints.

Chairman Muhammad advised all meetings are open, and anyone is welcome to attend to speak to the
CPRB.

Adjournment

A.Craig motioned and J. James seconded a motion to adjourn. After a unanimous vote, the meeting was
adjourned at 7:36pm.



Respectfully Submitted,
Ryan Cummins, Staff Liaison to the CPRB

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