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GRPD officer involved in Marine combat vet case reinstated

Grand Rapids Police cruiser
Bryce Huffman
Michigan Radio
Grand Rapids Police cruiser

The Grand Rapids Police Department exonerated a controversial captain who called Immigration and Customs Enforcement about a U.S. citizen and Marine combat veteran.

The officer, Captain Curt VanderKooi, was reinstated on Friday after the department opened an internal investigation, which exonerated VanderKooi. 

VanderKooi came under scrutiny late last year when he called ICE about Jilmar Ramos-Gomez, a U.S. citizen who is also a Marine combat veteran.

Miriam Aukerman, Senior Staff Attorney with the ACLU of Michigan, says documents detailing the communications between VanderKooi and ICE officials are troubling.

“The community has reason to be incredibly scared about the Grand Rapids Police Department,” Aukerman says.

Hillary Scholten, Staff Attorney with the Michigan Immigrant Rights Center, says VanderKooi was supervising the U visa program, which is intended to protect people who are victims of certain crimes.

“Captain VanderKooi routinely abused this position of trust by contacting ICE over and over again about victims of crimes,” Scholten says.

The ACLU and MIRC say they will appeal the department’s decision to reinstate VanderKooi at a hearing with the Civilian Appeal Board next month.

The Grand Rapids Police Command Officers Association says it is happy that VanderKooi is reinstated. The Grand Rapids Police Department did not return calls for comment for this story.

Bryce Huffman was Michigan Radio’s West Michigan Reporter and host of Same Same Different. He is currently a reporter for Bridge Detroit.
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