GR Civilian Appeals Board overturns GRPD's decision to exonerate officer

May 20, 2019

Captain Curt VanderKooi
Credit Grand Rapids Police Department

In a 6-2 vote on Wednesday, the Grand Rapids Civilian Appeals Board determined that Captain Curt Vanderkooi violated the city’s impartial policing policy when he contacted Immigration Customs Enforcement, while off duty, about U.S. Citizen and decorated veteran, Jilmar Ramos Gomez. 

Rusell Olmstead says he voted to reverse the Grand Rapids Police Department’s decision because he says there was a pattern of racial bias in how Vanderkooi contacted ICE. 

“But when you broke down and looked at all of the correspondences that were about trying to get individual information about people I found that in every case it was about a person of color and/or a person with a Hispanic or Latinx name.”

Board member John Van Tholen disagrees, and says he doesn’t think the case was made that Vanderkooi violated any policies and the officer was just doing his job.  

“Exercising caution what had gone down.” 

It was the American Civil Liberties Union in Michigan that brought this case forward to the civilian appear after Vanderkooi was exonerated and reinstated to his position at GRPD. 

While the Civilians Appeal Board has been around for over thirty years, the decision to overturn has only been made by the board a handful of times. 

Now that the civilian appeals board has voted to reverse the decision, it will be up to city manager Mark Washington to determine what disciplinary actions will be taken.

Michelle Jokisch Polo, WGVU News.