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First black state trooper: MSP director’s stance on NFL protests doesn’t help diversity efforts

A Michigan State Police file photo.
Michigan State Police
The director of the Michigan State Police is facing criticism over a Facebook post calling athletes who kneeled during the National Anthem "degenerates."

The director of the Michigan State Police has apologized for sharing a Facebook post that called NFL players who take a knee during the national anthem "degenerates."

The Michigan Black Legislative Caucus is demanding that Governor Snyder fire Col. Kriste Kibbey Etue. The black lawmakers say they're "appalled" by the post.

But Governor Snyder says he will not ask Col. Etue to resign, citing her decades of public service.

Retired State Police Captain Jack Hall was also dismayed by the post.

“For her to represent the Michigan State Police and to actually call people names because they have an opinion is just totally unacceptable,” said Hall.

In August 1967, Hall became the first African-American state trooper. He also served as a sergeant before retiring as a captain in 1992.

In 1975, during Hall's tenure, the U.S. Justice Department sued the department for discrimination against minorities and women.

Michigan's state police force was also under a federal consent decree that monitored the department's hiring of minority troopers until 1993. 

After the consent decree was lifted, the number of minority troopers began to decline. In 2015, the Detroit Free Press reported that there were 59 black troopers among the more than 1,100 troopers statewide.

Hall spent a considerable part of his career recruiting new troopers. He said young African-Americans didn’t want to join the police force because “they mess with people, they beat on people.”

But Hall saw it differently.

“The more blacks you have in the department, the less likely you’re going to get a situation where a police officer, whether he’s black or white, is going to overreact toward somebody that looks different than he does or she does,” he explained.

Col. Etue has said that she wants to see diversity among the ranks improve.

The Michigan State Police did not respond to our request to speak with Col. Etue. We also reached out to the Michigan State Police Troopers Association who declined to comment.

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