Kent County Sheriff Larry Stelma fired Deputy Mike Tanis, scion of local politico Art Tanis, for filing a false police report. Stelma accused the former deputy of lying about the force used to apprehend a suspect near Comstock Park in January. It appears that Tanis pepper-sprayed the suspect after he was already handcuffed and secured in the rear seat of the patrol car, whereas Tanis had originally reported using pepper spray on the suspect only during the arrest.
Stelma justified his action by making clear that one of deputy's duties is to provide sworn testimony, which must be above reproach. He told the Advance: "Testimony is a fundamental part of an officer's job. It's not a question of if they will ever be called to testify, they will."
On the one hand, discipline like this should quell some of the concerns expressed in the Urban League's recent report questioning the trustworthiness of Grand Rapids area police officers in the treatment of minority residents. On the other, the antics of the River Rats show that lying to law enforcement and the courts remains a scourge in our judicial system. That said, let's welcome progress where we find it.