DES MOINES, Iowa – A Des Moines activist group calls on the Des Moines Police Department and the City Manager to replace the officer leading the department’s de-escalation training.
The Iowa Citizens for Community Improvements said Officer Michael Fong was suspended in 2007 for striking a person while they were handcuffed. In 2013, Officer Fong was suspended again for hitting a person in the face. His actions led to an $800,000 settlement in an excessive force lawsuit.
“We want the removal of Michael Fong, as the trainer for the de-escalation training of our future, police officers, and current police officers. We want him removed,” said Sharon Zanders- Ackiss, the Special Projects Director for Iowa Citizens for Community Improvements.
However, the Des Moines Police Department believes Officer Fong is the best fit for the job.
“This decision was based on his entire career performance, not just a snapshot of it,” said Sergeant Paul Parizek for the Des Moines Police Department.
“He’s done an excellent job, and this is a very important topic for our officers to make sure they get the best instruction and they’re getting it.”
The City Manager, Scott Sanders, also agrees with Officer Fong’s appointment.
“We acknowledge the community’s response to the selection of Sgt. Michael Fong as a certified De-Escalation Training instructor with DMPD. I reviewed the matter with Chief Wingert and given Sgt. Fong’s extensive training experience in military and law enforcement, I remain supportive of the decision. It is worth noting that Sgt. Fong is but one member of a five-officer training team supervised by a lieutenant and the curriculum is established each year by DMPD senior staff.”
Zanders-Ackiss said they voiced their concerns to the City Council on Monday. The group said they are giving the City Council until Friday to address their concerns about Officer Fong.