KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — Kalamazoo has hired an independent company to review how its police department handled vandalism and protests in the city, as well as the way it responded when violence broke out during a Proud Boys rally.
The city has inked a $75,000 contract with OIR Group, a consulting firm out of California, to conduct a use-of-force study of the Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety.
“I am pleased to announce we have selected the OIR Group to conduct a Use-of Force Study and provide an independent review of KDPS’ policies, practices and protocols,” Kalamazoo City Manager Jim Ritsema said in a Friday statement. “We are committed to transparency and accountability and we believe this external, independent review will allow us to continuously improve our practices and approach.”
OIR was tasked with looking at several specific incidents, including:
- A May 30 peaceful protest over police reform in which officers in riot gear pushed their way into the crowd to allow to cruisers surrounded by protesters to drive away.
- A spate of vandalism on the night of June 1 in to June 2 in which officers used tear gas to get people to break up.
- Another peaceful protest on the evening of June 2 in which officers used tear gas on protesters who broke the curfew instituted after the vandalism.
- The way KDPS responded to an Aug. 15 rally by the Proud Boys, a hate group, and the brawl that broke out as a result.
OIR will analyze the May and June response in comparison to the Aug. 15 brawl with a focus on equity. It will also look at how KDPS used force during the protests and how that affected crime.
The city says it chose OIR over three other firms from around the country because of its “deep experience and proven track record reviewing and assessing all aspects of law enforcement organizations,” according to Kalamazoo Citizen Public Safety Review and Appeals Board Chair Vernon Payne.
Payne, fellow appeals board member Oliver Howell and Kalamazoo Director of Diversity Equity and Inclusion Dorla Bonner chose OIR.
Bonner says the city is committed to making sure proper procedures were followed and that the city can make changes for future events.
“One of the things we said with our response to the protests is that we would listen to the community and one of our organizations in the community recommended that we do an independent review,” Bonner said.
Michael Gennaco, an investigator with OIR Group, says it will review the events through a variety of perspectives. The process will begin next week with the interviewing of city and police officials.
“Our goal is to finish our review and report back within 120 days,” he said.
The firm will report monthly to the city manager’s office and the appeals board. Its final written conclusions will be made public.
—News 8’s Kyle Mitchell contributed to this report.