By Alisha Dixon
On Tuesday, Rev. Dr. Wendell Anthony, president, Detroit Branch NAACP, was joined by Congressman John Conyers, Jr. and other leaders for a press conference to call for the resignation of Col. Kriste Kibbey Etue, director, Michigan State Police and a review of departmental policies.
The call for Etue’s resignation comes just days after the MSP director made derogatory comments on her personal Facebook page where she expressed disproval of recent protests during the National Anthem at NFL games, a direct, yet peaceful response to rampant police brutality.
In the now infamous post, Etue wrote, “Who wins a football game has ZERO impact on our lives. Who fights for and defends our nation has every impact on our lives. We stand with the heroes, not a bunch of rich, entitled, arrogant, ungrateful, anti-American denigrates. Signed, We the People.”
While many have responded by questioning Etue’s professionalism, morality and commitment to diversity, others have expressed support for her and believe she was well within her constitutional rights when she made the post. While, this is true, the issue, Rev. Anthony said, is that Etue’s comments, whether public or private, violate Michigan State Police policy which she is required to uphold.
As stated in Section 4.5 of MSP’s Code of Conduct, “Members shall maintain a level of conduct in their personal and business affairs which is in keeping with the highest standards of the law enforcement profession. Members shall conduct themselves at all times, both on and off duty, in a manner that will reflect favorably upon the department. Conduct unbecoming a member shall include that which brings the department into disrepute or reflects discredit on the individual as a member of the department or that which impairs the efficiency of the department.”
Section 4.5a continues, “Members shall not make public statements on or off duty which show a reckless disregard for the truth.”
Etue’s gross violation of MSP policy didn’t stop there.
In Michigan State Police Order 12, Section 2, Discriminatory Harassment, Part C, Prohibited Conduct, it further indicates that the director’s behavior was in direct violation of agency guidelines.
- “No employee shall either explicitly or implicitly ridicule, mock, deride or belittle, intimidate, threaten verbally or physically, or bully any person.”
- “Employee shall not make offensive or derogatory comments to any person, either directly or indirectly, based on religion, race, color, national origin, age, sex, height, weight, marital status, partisan consideration, disability, genetic information, or other characteristics. Such harassment may be a prohibited form of discrimination under state and federal law and is considered misconduct subject to disciplinary action by the agency.”
Appointed in 2011 by Gov. Rick Snyder, Etue became the first woman to lead MSP after almost a century of male leadership. This, for many, was a step in the right direction with regard to diversity.
In an official letter sent to Gov. Snyder, Rev. Anthony requested to meet with the governor to discuss Etue’s conduct as he believes her behavior is merely a symptom of MSP departmental policy issues that are the result of discriminatory practices, such biased testing practices, that have contributed heavily to a lack of diversity within the department.
In the letter, he said, “The subsequent so-called apology by Col. Etue is in fact no apology at all. When one takes an in-depth look at the demographics of the department, the promotional policies, and the lack of equitable racial representation of the state police of Michigan, it is indeed, reprehensible.”
Rev. Anthony also asked the governor to provide statistical data that shows the number of people of color and women within MSP’s senior ranks, which has shown a significant decline since the removal of the 1993 federal consent decree.
“The issue is bigger than Col. Etue. The head of the Michigan State Police does not seem to understand that in order to serve the people, you must work with and respect the people. You must also have a proportionate representation of the people, as troopers and staff members, throughout your department,” Rev. Anthony said.
Gov. Snyder has yet to respond.
In all fairness, Col. Etue did issue what she considered to be an apology, but only after public outcry.
“It was a mistake to share this message on Facebook and I sincerely apologize to anyone who was offended. I will continue my focus on the unity at the Michigan State Police and in communities across Michigan,” Etue said in her apology.
Although apologetic, the MSP director refuses to resign and the governor has said he will not fire Etue or issue a request for her resignation.
“At the request of the governor, Col. Etue will remain as director of the Michigan State Police until after the 2018 gubernatorial election,” said Shanon Banner, public affairs director, Michigan State Police.
Etue is set to retire early next year, according to the terms of MSP’s Deferred Retirement Option Program that gives troopers the option to retire later in order to receive a larger pension. What’s worse is that even after retiring, Gov. Snyder said he will reappoint Etue, allowing her to serve through December 2018, the end of the governor’s last term. As a result, she will collect both her salary and pension, a controversial practice called “double dipping.” Public records reveal Etue currently earns $165,000 annually. Upon retirement, she will receive a pension of $84,000 per year.