KDPS: Officer disciplined after responding to fight at bar

Kalamazoo County

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — Disciplinary action was taken against a Kalamazoo police officer after responding to a fight on July 4, the department’s chief said.

Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety Chief Vernon Coakley and Dorla Bonner, the city’s director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, made the announcement Thursday in a YouTube video in lieu of a press conference or written release.

The incident happened early Sunday around 1:30 a.m. at a local bar near West Cedar Street and South Burdick Street.

After the fight, three men were removed from the bar by security, KDPS said.

While police were talking to the men, who were all Hispanic, one told an officer, “America is run by white people and they don’t give a (expletive) about Black and brown people.”

The officer then responded, “The good thing about America is you can cross the border at any time.”

Coakley said the officer self-reported the incident to the department and an investigation was launched.

In that investigation, Coakley said it was determined that the officer’s actions were considered “unprofessional” and that disciplinary action was issued along with additional training. It’s unclear what the discipline and additional training entailed.

A KDPS spokesman said the department does not comment on disciplinary matters.

Police said the men involved made a formal complaint to them three days later. They said the complaint was sustained.

Coakley in the video apologized for the incident.

“As chief, I want to make it clear that this is not our finest hour and the officer’s conduct was in violation of internal policies designed to prevent such situations,” Coakley said.

He went on to say that the department’s officers are provided training on topics including “ethics, de-escalation, unconscious biases and fair and impartial policing.”

“We want to use this situation as an opportunity to reiterate that the city of Kalamazoo is working to become more diverse, equitable and inclusive, which is why the Department of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion was created,” Bonner said.

Bonner said the city’s first Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion plan will be available in the fall.

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