In the flood of 2014, my dad went missing. My mom attempted to report him missing and no police departments would take a report. My parents lived in Southfield, and the Southfield Police Department was particularly cruel and insensitive, especially my interaction several months later with then-Deputy Chief Robert Shelide.
I wrote a letter to the Southfield Police Department outlining what had occurred with my dad and where I felt they had failed in serving and protecting. I received a phone call from Shelide. Amongst other things, he told me that the steps I was requesting wouldn’t have been taken “for a family member of the mayor.” He also told me that my dad could have been “at McDonald’s or in a hotel” and “that he didn’t warrant departmental resources.”
As you can imagine, this was shocking and devastating to me. My dad, in fact, was not at “McDonald’s” or “in a hotel.” He was found dead in his car the day after he went missing, not by the police, but by a person that lived on the block where my dad’s car was parked.
It came to my attention via friends that Shelide had made some abhorrent posts on social media. These posts invoked violence against people of color. At best, they are unequivocally racist in nature. At worst, they are criminal and should not be acceptable coming from any human being, let alone a law enforcement officer.
My concern is that if your chief of police could speak to a grieving daughter that way, what else is he capable of? And how many police departments in this state will pass him around, hoping he will magically change? If change is going to come, it has to start with the people who have power. And you do. So, the question is, how will you use your power?
Would you be OK if the next George Floyd occurred in your city? Forget about Neal Rott, of blessed memory. Think of all those who don’t have the privilege I have to even be able to write this letter.
Black lives have always mattered but, apparently, they matter more to some than to others, and others should not include law enforcement officers.
Editor’s Note: On, June 16, Shelby Township Trustees suspended Chief Robert Shelide for 30 days and ordered him to undergo cultural awareness and de-escalation training.