© 2024 Interlochen
CLASSICAL IPR | 88.7 FM Interlochen | 94.7 FM Traverse City | 88.5 FM Mackinaw City IPR NEWS | 91.5 FM Traverse City | 90.1 FM Harbor Springs/Petoskey | 89.7 FM Manistee/Ludington
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Grand Traverse Sheriff verbally commits to more implicit bias training after demands from activists

Max Johnston
Interlochen Public Radio

The Grand Traverse County Sheriff says his officers will undergo more implicit bias training after the killing of George Floyd.

The training was one of 10 demands made to local officials by The Northern Michigan Anti-Racism Task Force.

Sheriff Tom Bensley says his office will research the logistics of training and outfitting his officers with body cameras, which he says they currently don’t use.

“There are benefits to body cameras, but there’s a lot of pitfalls too,” Bensley said last week. “So we’re trying to ferret out those issues going forward.”

County Sheriff officers already take some implicit-bias training, but Courtney Wiggins, one of the leaders of the recently-formed Northern Michigan Anti-Racism Task Force, says that isn’t enough.

“Implicit bias is something that is ingrained, and it’s going to take much longer than a three hour course [to get rid of it],” she said.

The Task Force is asking for annual, mandatory training for all employees of the Sheriff’s department. The task force also wants input on choosing the training program.

The Task Force gave 10 policy demands to city and county officials in June.

In addition to more cameras for local law enforcement, they are demanding that the Sheriff’s office stop cooperating with Immigration and Customs Enforcement, among others.

Bensley and several task force members met Wednesday, and both said it was a productive meeting. Task force members say they hope to address the rest of their demands in future meetings.

“This is just the beginning of the dialogue with law enforcement and really with the community,” Wiggins said. “We cannot do this without everyone’s involvement.”

The group has also gotten the Traverse City Commission to consider outfitting city police with body cameras. The commission will vote on that proposal later this month.

Max came to IPR in 2017 as an environmental intern. In 2018, he returned to the station as a reporter and quickly took on leadership roles as Interim News Director and eventually Assignment Editor. Before joining IPR, Max worked as a news director and reporter at Michigan State University's student radio station WDBM. In 2018, he reported on a Title IX dispute with MSU in his story "Prompt, Thorough and Impartial." His work has also been heard on Michigan Radio, WDBM and WKAR in East Lansing and NPR.