GRAND RAPIDS, Mich-- Nearly two weeks after an 11-year-old girl was handcuffed by Grand Rapids police officers during a search for a stabbing suspect, one city commissioner is calling for a new policy.
During Tuesday night's city commission meeting, Grand Rapids Police Chief David Rahinsky told the public the department has offered counseling to 11-year-old Honestie Hodges and her family. He also said the remaining 100 minutes of body camera footage from the December 6 incident would be released Wednesday.
Chief Rahinsky's address to the commission and public was followed by an address from City Commissioner Joseph Jones, who is calling for changes when it comes to how police officers are trained.
"I believe we’re putting our officers in danger when we assign them to shifts where there’s little to no engagement with more seasoned officers," said Jones. "I think it’s a lot to ask young newly-minted officers to make split-second decisions and engage in using critical-thinking skills when their lived experiences as adults is limited."
Commissioner Jones also requested changes for how officers deal with minors.
"I want to see a policy, a protocol that specifically speaks to how, in the future, our department will engage with children when called into action. My recommendation would be we refer to this as the 'Honestie Policy,'" said Jones.
Officers say Honestie was cuffed briefly during the December 6 search and released a short time later. The suspect they had been looking for was eventually found at a nearby home and taken into custody.
Since that incident, there has been much outcry from the public, including the NAACP, who held a press conference Tuesday morning.
"We cannot and will not stand by to watch our children be aggressively and strategically targeted and terrorized by the police sworn to protect them," said Cle Jackson, the President of the NAACP of Greater Grand Rapids.
"I think they make very valid points and some of them we are already following up on," said Mayor Rosalynn Bliss in reference to the NAACP's statements. "I think they have a right to be upset. I think everyone has a right to their experience and how they respond to an incident like this, so absolutely, I respect the anger and the outrage that we’re hearing from the community."
Mayor Bliss also told FOX 17 there is a need for increased communication between the community, city leaders and police. While she called video of Honestie being handcuffed 'heartbreaking' she also told us this has not changed her opinion of the police department as a whole.
"This isn’t the police department against the community and it’s unfortunate that a division is being created," said Mayor Bliss. "They have an incredibly tough job, but [I] can also appreciate the community in saying ‘we can do better,’ there are systemic issues that we need to face and that we’re in this together."
In addition to the rest of the body camera footage being released, Chief Rahinsky says the results of an internal investigation should be released by the end of the week.