Court rejects challenge in Grand Rapids fingerprint lawsuit

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) — The Michigan appeals court has affirmed a decision in favor of Grand Rapids police in a dispute over taking photographs and fingerprints of people who lack identification.

The lawsuit was filed in 2014, before Grand Rapids changed the photo-and-fingerprint policy. The change was made to improve relationships between police and residents.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of a young man who was photographed and fingerprinted in 2011. A health club told police that the man appeared to be looking into car windows. He wasn’t charged.

The appeals court says officers have immunity because it’s not clearly established that fingerprinting and photographing someone without ID violates the U.S. Constitution.

In 2015, Grand Rapids police said fingerprints would be taken from people without ID only if their behavior was “highly suspicious.”

The Grand Rapids City Attorney’s Office released this statement about the decision:

“The City of Grand Rapids is pleased with the Court of Appeals decisions in these cases.

“These incidents occurred in 2011 and 2012. GRPD practices have evolved since then. The Chief publically announced changes to GRPD procedure in December 2015 after the Kent County Circuit Court sided with the officers and the City in these cases. The Department implemented these changes in an effort to improve and better align our services with community expectations. The community wants us to move forward, not backward. The department is not interested in reverting back to old practices.”