Col. Kriste Etue — a white woman, and the first woman to head the State Police — has been mired in controversy for several weeks. One of her troopers recently used his taser on an unarmed teenager riding an ATV, which caused him to crash and die. More recently, because Etue herself used her social media platform to call football players protesting racial injustice “degenerates” for kneeling during the national anthem.
Just this past weekend the Detroit Free Press reported Etue’s department is considered to be rife with racial tension even within its ranks.
But Etue has so far insisted she can still do her job effectively and won’t step down. She also says her meeting with Legislative Black Caucus members was productive.
So what — if anything — must happen to repair the image and community relations between the Michigan State Police and black residents who are becoming increasingly wary of the department?
State Rep. Sherry Gay-Dagnogo (D-Detroit) was in the room for the meeting as a member of the Michigan Legislative Black Caucus. She joins Detroit Today with Stephen Henderson to talk about the meeting and about the larger issue of trust between black residents, the State Police, and law enforcement in general.
Gay-Dagnogo says, while she is proud to serve in the caucus, she does not include her own response among other members of the caucus who released a statement last week calling for Col. Etue’s immediate resignation.
“My takeaway, as an individual, was never to call for resignation,” says Gay-Dagnogo. “And I know that surprises a number of people. But the Michigan State Police has had its issues prior to Etue’s leadership. And I believe if there’s not policy change or system-wide change there will be problems after she leaves.”
“In the meeting, she expressed that she is deeply sorry about the post,” she continues.
“I don’t intend to change Etue’s heart. That’s not my goal, mission, or agenda. I think it’s much bigger than Etue. We have to look at systemic challenges within the Michigan State Police and, for that matter, any other department in the state of Michigan.”
Click on the audio player above to hear the full conversation.