Review backs GRPD officer who called ICE on veteran

Grand Rapids
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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The Grand Rapids Police Department says an internal investigation shows the officer who contacted Immigration Customs Enforcement about a U.S. military veteran did so based only on the suspect’s actions.

Jilmar Ramos-Gomez was arrested on Nov. 21 after he allegedly set a fire inside Spectrum Health Butterworth Hospital, pulling the fire alarm and somehow making it onto the helipad.

He was set to be released from the Kent County jail on a personal recognizance bond on Dec. 14, but instead, he was picked up and taken to the Calhoun County Jail for ICE, which used a detainment request. 

Ramos-Gomez spent three days at the Calhoun County Jail, facing deportation proceedings. He was released after Ramos-Gomez’ mother contacted an attorney who provided proof of his U.S. citizenship to ICE.

ACLU of West Michigan attorney Miriam Aukerman called the case “plainly racial profiling and evidence of ICE’s abuse of power.”

But GRPD Interim Chief David Kiddle said Friday the Grand Rapids officer who contacted ICE was following department policy, after concluding Ramos-Gomez’s actions “met the criteria of a potential act of terrorism.”

“Our police department’s first priority is to keep our community safe. We do not enforce immigration laws. Contacting ICE is not a routine part of our investigative process. Rather, we did this in light of the potential risk to the public’s safety, specifically through a possible act of terrorism,” Kiddle said in response to the review.

Kiddle said the internal investigation did determine the officer “used unprofessional language in his interactions with ICE,” which he said he has addressed.

Kiddle said he ordered the internal investigation immediately after the American Civil Liberties Union and Michigan Immigrant Rights Center called for a review. He said he’s tapped both groups for “language and resources” to consider while the department reviews its contacts with ICE, as well as policies and protocols “to ensure our procedures for contacting federal authorities are based on maintaining safety for everyone in Grand Rapids.”

The case prompted the Kent County Sheriff’s Department to change its policy. The agency said it will no longer hold people in the county jail based only on ICE’s request. Immigration detainment requests must now be be signed by a federal judge or magistrate.

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