A Black mother filed a complaint after a Livonia police officer pulled over her daughter when she drove home from work earlier this year.
It was around 2:30 a.m. and the daughter had been traveling her normal route from the Fiat Chrysler Automobiles plant in Detroit to the interstate highway to Farmington Road.
The route incorporated the Livonia Police Department should the younger woman ever need help.
But, on this Jan. 28 commute, “she passed the department and was pulled over shortly after and accused of following the police car,” the mother said in an email complaint to Police Chief Curtis Caid. “They asked her where she lived and why she was following the police car (and) how long she’d been employed with FCA.
“She was alone at 2:30 in the morning with three cars of Livonia PD officers surrounding her and no one to protect her. Your department showed no empathy. This, in my opinion, was handled poorly.
“Let’s be honest, Livonia does not have a positive history of dealing with ‘non residents’ or African-Americans, and this is a shining example of why that perception is there.”
The mother filed one of four civilian complaints, all claiming racial bias, that the police department received between January and June 2020.
Caid said the stop with multiple vehicles was a routine response by the department and ultimately categorized this and the three other 2020 complaints as “unfounded” or exonerated the officers, as he did for most of the 17 complaints filed in 2019.
That more than irks members of Livonia Citizens Caring About Black Lives, an advocacy group formed this year because they were upset over perceived racial inequities and profiling in Livonia. It’s a perceived dismissal of citizens’ concerns that thrums through their calls for a new city-sponsored civilian oversight committee.
“I would imagine there’s a number of people who aren’t comfortable going to the department that they’re complaining about in order to complain,” said John Hillers, a group member and Livonia resident whose petition for the committee has garnered more than 800 signatures.
The DHL logistics planner has lived four years in Livonia, which he considers a great and safe place to live and raise children.
Still … His Black friends hesitate to visit because they fear getting stopped and Hillers said he’s seen too many Black drivers stopped by police near Interstate 96.
“That’s still their reputation,” Hillers said of Livonia’s police officers racial profiling. “It needs to be dealt with.”
His change.org petition describes a committee that would be a first stop for anyone wishing to make a complaint against the Livonia police. It would “receive, investigate and resolve all civilian complaints against LPD” and make disciplinary recommendations to the chief.
For stops not concluding in arrests, officers would provide their name, badge number, reason for the stop and a card with instructions for filing complaints.
Hillers has some big hurdles standing in his way.
Caid, the police chief since 2011, and City Council President Kathleen McIntyre, the top vote getter in November 2019, are both opposed to his idea, saying there’s enough oversight already.
“My oversight is the elected leadership in the city of Livonia,” the chief said. “They’re in their seats in office to serve the constituents.
“To really insinuate or indicate that this police department needs oversight because we’re not serving the community is false and it’s unwarranted,” he continued. “It seems that some of these people that are making these various demands have concluded that our activities and the way that we serve this community is faulty in some way or fashion, and I don’t accept that.”
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Floyd, 46, died when a Minneapolis officer kneeled on his neck for nearly nine minutes.
“The George Floyd incident wa…