Despite Pushback, Des Moines Police Sticking With Controversial De-Escalation Trainer

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Sgt. Michael Fong (Courtesy: Des Moines Police Department)

DES MOINES, Iowa — Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement (CCI) is speaking out against the Des Moines City Council for allowing just 25 seconds for public comment at Monday night’s meeting.

Iowa CCI questions if city leaders are listening to concerns from the community about Des Moines Police Sgt. Michael Fong, who is on a five-person team leading de-escalation training. In 2007, the police department suspended Fong for using excessive force, which led to an $800,000 settlement.

“What are you going to do to address the concerns of the community. Are you going to continue to ignore and dig your heels in the sand and say ‘no, we’re not budging’ because it’s about your ego,” said Sharon Zanders-Ackiss, special project director for Iowa CCI. “Or are you really looking out for the people in this city, this community, and you are willing to do something about it.”

However, the Des Moines Police Department stands by its appointment of Fong to help lead de-escalation training. Des Moines Police Department spokesperson Sgt. Paul Parizek gave the following statement to WHO 13 News:

“The Des Moines Police Department stands by and will continue to stand by the decision to appoint Sgt. Michael Fong as a de-escalation training instructor.

The incidents that are repeatedly aired at City Council meetings occurred 14 and 8 years ago and have been appropriately addressed, corrected, and resolved.

What is being overlooked each time this topic is brought up is an accurate representation of Sgt. Fong’s 16 years of service. Looking at one recent year, 2019, Sgt. Fong received a promotion and commendations, notably a Victim Service Award from the United States Attorneys Office, following his successful investigation and prosecution of the largest human-trafficking case our State has seen, all earned through selfless service to our community.”

Des Moines Police Sgt. Paul Parizek

WHO 13 News requested comment from Des Moines Mayor Frank Cownie, but he did not immediately respond.

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