Updated: One dead after plane crash in Battle Creek  Emergency crews are responding to W.K. Kellogg Airport in the City of Battle Creek after a small plane crash. 

BREAKING NEWS
[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 August 27, 2015 17:16 GMT

FDA-TOBACCO

NEW YORK (AP) -- The Food and Drug Administration has issued warning letters to the makers of Winston, Natural Spirit and Nat Sherman cigarettes over their "additive-free" and "natural" label claims.

The agency issued the warnings to ITG Brands LLC, Santa Fe Natural Tobacco Company Inc. and Sherman's 1400 Broadway N.Y.C. Ltd. The issue over the claims is that they may lead consumers to believe the products pose a lower risk. That claim has to be scientifically proven.

In a statement, the FDA said it has determined that the products under the warning letter need what is called a "modified risk tobacco product order" before they can be marketed in that way. It has not issued any orders for modified-risk products to the market and this is the first time it is using its authority to take action against "natural" or "additive-free" claims.

The companies have 15 days to respond with a plan or dispute the warnings.

GENERIC BIOTECH-DRUG NAMES

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Food and Drug Administration has released its proposal for naming lower-cost biotech drugs, a critical step in creating a market for the new class of medicines.

Biotech drugs are powerful, injected medicines produced in living cells which are typically much more expensive than traditional chemical-based drugs.

For decades, they have not faced generic competition because the FDA lacked a system to approve cheaper versions until 2012. Earlier this year the agency approved the first lower-cost biotech drug, a knock-off of the blood booster, Neupogen.

But many questions remain about how the new drugs will be sold, including whether they can use the same ingredient names as the original products.

Under an FDA proposal, biotech drugs would include a four-letter code to help doctors distinguish them from the original versions.

HIDDEN GULF SPILL-SETTLEMENT

NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- Environmental groups and a New Orleans company that failed to end a decade-old oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico have reached a settlement agreement in a lawsuit over the slow-motion spill.

Taylor Energy Company says it has agreed under the settlement to spend $400,000 to foster coastal research and will host a public forum and publish a website with information on the company's spill response.

Environmental groups led by the Waterkeeper Alliance sued Taylor Energy in 2012, accusing it of withholding information about the leak's potential impact on the Gulf ecosystem.

The groups also argued that the public was entitled to know more about the company's government-supervised efforts to stop the leak, which was the subject of an Associated Press investigation in April.

MCDONALD'S-CHICKEN ABUSE

NEW YORK (AP) -- McDonald's and its supplier Tyson Foods say they've cut ties with a chicken farmer after an advocacy group released a video taken with a hidden camera that the group said showed abusive practices at its farm.

The video was released by Mercy for Animals, an animal rights group that says it has released more than 40 similar videos in the past. The footage shows people scooping chickens into a bucket by whacking them with spike on the end of a pole, and standing on birds' heads to break their necks.

Tyson Foods Inc. said in a statement that it was investigating the situation, but that it terminated the farmer's contract "based on what we currently know." McDonald's Corp. said it supported Tyson's decision to terminate its contract with the farmer in question.

APPLE EVENT

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Apple has announced plans for a new product event on Sept. 9 in San Francisco, where the giant tech company is expected to show off new iPhones and other gadgets.

Invitations for the event were sent to reporters and analysts this morning. In usual fashion, Apple is only hinting at what to expect. The invitations mention Apple's digital assistant, "Siri." Apple has previously said it plans to expand Siri's features in the new version of its operating software for iPhones and iPads.

Along with a new iPhone model, tech industry insiders have speculated Apple may introduce a larger iPad and a new set-top box for television sets. The company however has not confirmed any plans.

The event will be held at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium in downtown San Francisco.

advertisement