[an error occurred while processing this directive]

I-Team: Allegations of racism surface in Battle Creek Police Dept.

Updated: Friday, August 16, 2013 |
I-Team: Allegations of racism surface in Battle Creek Police Dept. story image
BATTLE CREEK, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - The Newschannel 3 I-Team is learning that two Battle Creek police officers have been disciplined after violating city policy.

The officers were investigated because they were involved in posting and writing on a racially-insensitive poster inside the city's police department.

The two officers who have been reprimanded told their bosses they didn't mean to offend anybody putting up a poster referencing the movie Napoleon Dynamite, and that it was simply a joke.

But the managers at the Battle Creek Police Department didn't find the joke funny and neither did a Battle Creek officer who is at the center of the controversy.

If you've seen the movie, you're familiar with one of its most memorable gags--a simple t-shirt that says "Vote for Pedro."

In the movie, a transfer student from Mexico who runs for election at an American high school and ends up being elected class president.

At the Battle Creek Police Department earlier this year, Officer Tom Rivera, who is Hispanic, was involved in his own election, as he decided to run for office in the local police union.

On the day of the election, at least four posters were placed on the walls of the police station with the movie's Pedro character displayed.

Later, another officer wrote below the picture on one poster, Tom Rivera for Chief Steward, with an arrow pointing to the picture.

On another poster, the words "Viva El Thomas" were written.

Documents we obtained show it's clear Rivera was very offended by what happened, and notified his superiors immediately, to inform them that he didn't think it was right.

In a statement to Newschannel 3, Rivera's lawyer Matt Glaser said Rivera felt he was a victim of racism.

Glaser said he hoped the department would send a strong message to its employees regarding what happened, so the I-Team investigated how BCPD handled it.

Documents obtained by the I-Team show the police department investigated the incident internally over several months and found that two officers were involved.

Police documents indicate Officer Eric Andrews put up the posters, and animal control officer Mike Ehart wrote Rivera's name on the pictures.

"The investigation is unable to prove that the officers' actions were specifically meant to harass Officer Rivera.  Their actions,  however, clearly violated the city's nondiscrimination policy which prohibits the displaying or distributing of offensive materials  based upon one or more of the protected categories. Violations of City policy can lead to corrective action up to and including  dismissal," the investigation concluded.

Before the internal investigation was complete, Deputy Police Chief James Saylor sent a memo to all BCPD personnel about the incident, reiterating the city's non-discrimination policy, and threatening officers that they could lose their job if it happened again.

Finally, the two officers involved were disciplined for what happened--a memo obtained by Newschannel 3 indicated that the corrective action for the two officers was a documented oral reprimand.

Glaser told Newschannel 3 that his client was not happy with the outcome, saying, "the reality is I think police officers in Battle Creek in general, when you get to the bottom of it, they're playing fast and loose."

Police Chief Jackie Hampton chose to answer our questions in the form of a statement, fearing legal action against his department may result from this case.

Regarding the level of discipline, Chief Hampton said, "I am very confident this behavior will not be repeated. The discipline we chose is designed to alter and change behavior.

"I think the employees were honest when they were interviewed. Both have integrity. It was a joke from their perspective. From our perspective, it was far from a joke," he added.

A study done several years ago by community members showed the majority of Hispanics in Battle Creek don't believe police officers treat them with respect.

On Thursday, leaders in the community say that over the last couple of years, there is a growing trust, despite these events.

Rivera's attorney says his client has started the process to potentially sue the city for what happened.
comments powered by Disqus
advertisement

What do you want to see?

If you have a story idea for the I-Team, you can contact us using the form below or by calling 269-388-4612.
Please re-enter the code shown in the image below.

Business News

Last Update on October 31, 2014 17:47 GMT

CONSUMER SENTIMENT

WASHINGTON (AP) -- U.S. consumers expect better economic growth and rising incomes in the coming months, pushing a measure of confidence to a seven-year high in October.

The University of Michigan says that its index of consumer sentiment rose to 86.9 from 84.6 in September. That's the highest since July 2007, five months before the Great Recession began. Still, the index regularly topped 90 before the downturn.

Richard Curtin, the survey's chief economist, says that almost six in ten of the respondents said the economy has improved recently, the highest proportion in more than 10 years.

The measure is the second this week to show consumer confidence has reached the highest level since the recession. Greater confidence and more hiring could lead to faster spending and healthier economic growth.

CONSUMER SPENDING

WASHINGTON (AP) -- U.S. consumer spending fell in September, the first decline since January, as shoppers took a breather after a big spending spree in August. Income growth posted the slowest gain this year.

The Commerce Department says consumer spending dropped 0.2 percent in September. Income edged up 0.2 percent in September, the smallest monthly gain since a flat reading last December.

The spending decline followed a big 0.5 percent increase in August. In September demand fell for durable goods such as autos and for nondurable goods, a drop that partially reflected falling prices for gasoline.

Spending is closely watched because it accounts for 70 percent of economic activity. Economists believe September will be a temporary pause as continued hiring gains pushing up spending and the overall economy in coming months.

GASOLINE PRICES

NEW YORK (AP) -- The average price of gasoline in the U.S. hit $3 a gallon Friday, and should soon drop below the benchmark for the first time since December 2010.

The price at the pump fell 33 cents in October, thanks mainly to plunging oil prices, according to AAA.

Many exuberant drivers have taken to social media to post pictures of gas station signs with prices of $2.99 or lower. Drivers in South Carolina and Tennessee are paying the lowest prices, with an average of $2.75 a gallon.

Drivers in New York are paying the most in the continental U.S., at an average of $3.37. That's still 22 cents cheaper than a year ago.

Gasoline is cheaper than milk again. In September the national average price of milk was $3.73 per gallon.

EARNS-BIG OIL

NEW YORK (AP) -- Falling oil prices hardly seem to be bothering the two biggest U.S. oil companies, but things could get tougher in the coming months.

Exxon and Chevron leaned on strong performances from their refining operations to increase profits in the third quarter despite plummeting global oil prices.

The global price of oil fell 18 percent from the beginning of the quarter to the end, and it cost both companies. Revenue slipped at Exxon by 4 percent and at Chevron by 8 percent.

But low oil and natural gas prices make for low raw material costs -- and higher profit -- for refining and chemical operations, which turn oil and gas into fuels and chemicals. Profit at Exxon's refining and chemicals operations rose 38 percent compared with a year earlier, and Chevron's profit from its so-called downstream operations more than tripled.

Those results helped Exxon's overall earning rise 3 percent in the quarter to $8.07 billion. Chevron's earnings rose 13 percent to $5.59 billion.

NISSAN-AIR BAG RECALL

DETROIT (AP) -- Nissan says it's recalling more than 1,800 Infiniti SUVs in the U.S. for an air bag problem that could send shrapnel into the passenger compartment.

The recall covers the QX56 SUVs from 2013 and the QX80s from 2014. The company says inflators made by Takata Corp. were built with an incorrect outer baffle part. That can cause pressure to build up, and the inflators can rupture if driver's side air bags are deployed.

Nissan has no reports of injuries from the problem. It was discovered after General Motors recalled 33,000 Cruze compact cars for the same problem in June. The Infiniti recall is part of a larger global recall of 260,000 Nissans announced last week.

Takata says the recall is separate from another one affecting 8 million vehicles in the U.S.

EUROPE-ECONOMY

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) -- Inflation has crept higher in the 18 countries that use the euro but the rise to 0.4 percent in the year to October is unlikely to offer much relief to the European Central Bank as it tries to boost a weak economy.

The official figure released Friday was up from 0.3 percent the month before.

The European Central Bank is under pressure to give the eurozone another dose of stimulus measures in coming months because inflation is so low and growth so weak. There are fears the eurozone could even fall into outright deflation, a crippling downward price spiral.

Core inflation, a key measure because it excludes volatile food and energy prices, fell to 0.7 percent from 0.8 percent.

The bank's goal is to keep inflation just below 2 percent.

BRITAIN-RBS

LONDON (AP) -- Royal Bank of Scotland, which is majority-owned by the U.K. government, has set aside 400 million pounds ($639 million) to cover potential fines arising from international investigations into alleged manipulation of foreign currency trading.

The total represents over half the 780 million pounds the bank earmarked for "conduct and litigation costs" in third-quarter earnings released Friday.

The results show the bank, which was bailed out by the government during the 2008 financial crisis, swung back to profit during the July-September period. Its net income of 896 million pounds follows an 828 million-pound loss last year.

CEO Ross McEwan says the bank knows it has "a long list of conduct and litigation issues to deal with and much, much more to do to restore our customers' trust in us."

advertisement