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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Michigan State Police is updating its policies in an attempt to bridge the gap with Hispanic drivers.
The department held a discussion with leaders of the Latino community at the Hispanic Center of West Michigan to address the changes. MSP brass provided insight and reinforced the agency’s stance that it will carry out laws in a nondiscriminatory manner.
“We are not involved in immigration status verification,” MSP Lt. Col. Kyle Bowman said. “We will not be detaining individuals in traffic stops for the sole purpose of determining immigration status. Just one of changes.”
MSP is looking to overcome language barriers by asking department members who speak other languages to provide their services when needed.
“I’ve had that quite often,” said MSP Trooper Miguel Mendez-Ibanez, who speaks Spanish. “I have helped my fellow troopers. For me, it makes me happy I can be that help in that capacity. (It’s) one of the reasons I joined the department.”
The department previously relied on federal immigration officials when language was a barrier.
“Since we don’t want to engage in an immigration enforcement policy, we had to come up with other resources,” Bowman said. “We already had members within our department that spoke other languages. We’re leveraging on diversity we have within our own agency.”
The department accepts foreign identification cards, it mostly comes across Canadian IDs.
“Most frequently we see Canadian drivers licenses here in Michigan,” Bowman said. “We don’t often come across IDs issued by the Mexican government.”
MSP is reinforcing the department’s familiarity of Mexican consular IDs.
“It’s an ID that has same security measurements as a passport, tamper-proof identities,” explained Fernando Gonzalez Saiffe, Michigan Consul General for Michigan. “It has an IQ code behind that in real time you can check biometrics of the individual.”
Bowman says people with consular IDs shouldn’t fear reaching out to MSP when they’re in need of help.
“Especially if it’s a victim, we don’t want them to not seek out police services,” Bowman said. “Especially with MSP because they think they won’t have an ID that will be recognizable.”
The consular IDs alone will not serve as a substitute for driver’s license, but they will allow troopers to confidently establish someone’s identity.