Dustin Dwyer | Michigan Radio

Dustin Dwyer

Reporter / Producer

Dustin Dwyer reports enterprise and long-form stories from Michigan Radio’s West Michigan bureau. He was a fellow in the class of 2018 at the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard. He’s been with Michigan Radio since 2004, when he started as an intern in the newsroom. He left the station in 2010-2011 to be a stay at home dad, and returned to be part of the Changing Gears project, a collaboration between Michigan Radio, Ideastream in Cleveland and WBEZ in Chicago. From 2012 – 2017, he was part of the team for State of Opportunity, and produced several radio documentaries on kids and families in Michigan. He lives in Grand Rapids with his wife and three kids.

screenshot of hearing in Jackson County District Court

A Jackson County judge lowered the bond amount today for one of the 14 men charged in the alleged plot to kidnap the governor.

The bond amount for Pete Musico had been set at $10 million. It’s now set at $100 thousand. 

Dustin Dwyer / Michigan Radio

In November of 1974, Richard Vander Veen was elected to the U.S. Congress from what was then Michigan’s fifth district.

Vander Veen was from Grand Rapids. He had won a special election earlier that year, after the previous incumbent, Gerald Ford, was named Vice President. Vander Veen was the first Democrat in 60 years to be elected to represent the area in Congress. But, two years later, he lost re-election, and no Democrat has held the seat since.

U.S. Attorney's Office for the Western District of Michigan

A sign that says "You Must Wear A Mask To Enter."
Mick Haupt / Unsplash

Health officials in Kent County are pleading with people to take “simple precautions” as new COVID-19 case numbers rise, and hospitals throughout West Michigan see an increase in cases.

Spectrum Health, the area’s largest hospital system, reported 81 confirmed COVID-19 patients in its hospitals as of Thursday, an increase compared to the number of patients it treated for much of the summer.

Mike Pence

Vice President Mike Pence held a rally in Grand Rapids on Wednesday.

The event was held outside Lacks Enterprises, a car-detail company on the city’s southeast side.

Pence praised President Donald Trump for leading the automotive industry’s economic comeback in Michigan.

judges gavel

A federal judge in Grand Rapids has ordered three of the men charged in an alleged terrorist plot to be held without bond.

Two other men face hearings later in the week.

Federal prosecutors laid out extensive evidence in court Tuesday against the five men charged in a plot to kidnap Governor Gretchen Whitmer. A total of 13 men face charges in the case.

At a hearing in Grand Rapids Tuesday, assitant U.S. prosecutor Nils Kessler showed pictures, videos and screenshots of text conversations among the five men.

Southwest Michigan Volunteer Militia members training in 2010
Pete Tombers

Rick Foreman heard the news on Thursday like everyone else. A group of men, many with ties to Michigan’s militia community, many who’d stood side-by-side with Foreman at demonstrations this spring and summer, had allegedly plotted to overtake the state capitol and kidnap the governor.

“When I heard about it, I couldn’t believe it,” Foreman says.

Kate Wells/Michigan Radio

This story has been updated to include a statement from Facebook. 

Facebook has shut down a Michigan Second Amendment rights group page that had more than 94,000 members.

Administrators for the group say there was no warning or explanation from Facebook before the page was taken down.

David Wilson/Flickr

More than 80 schools and universities in Michigan are now experiencing outbreaks of COVID-19, according to the latest update from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. The department reported 24 new, and 63 ongoing outbreaks at schools Monday afternoon. More than 4,000 students and staff have tested positive for the virus, more than 90% of which were at colleges and universities.

Dustin Dwyer / Michigan Radio

People protested in Grand Rapids Friday, two days after Kentucky officials announced no murder charges for police officers who shot and killed Breonna Taylor.

Taylor grew up in Grand Rapids. She was killed in March by Louisville police during a raid. A Grand Jury declined to prosecute the two officers who shot her, saying they reacted appropriately when Taylor’s boyfriend fired at them. One officer was charged for “wanton endangerment” for firing shots into a neighboring apartment.

Paulette Parker / Michigan Radio

I met Kyla James in her front yard on a hot day in the middle of a global pandemic. She sat in a chair in the shade of a tall tree, legs folded underneath her.

It had been almost three months since her former student – the one with the beautiful smile and the crazy good computer skills – was killed. Three months of knowing her coworkers were the ones responsible, that all of her former students had been traumatized by it.

She always knew Lakeside had problems. She thought she was helping make it better. Then she saw the report from the state documenting what happened. She learned about the years of violations at Lakeside.

“Even for someone working there, even seeing what I did in being there every day, it was still stunning,” James says. “It was stunning.”

Dustin Dwyer / Michigan Radio

A Kalamazoo judge says criminal trials can move forward against two former staff members at a youth residential facility over the death of a child.

Dustin Dwyer / Michigan Radio

Michigan colleges and universities have reported more than 930 COVID-19 cases since the start of August, according to publicly available numbers compiled by Michigan Radio.

That number is likely an undercount because many private universities do not post regular coronavirus updates on their public websites. One of the largest outbreaks in the state is at Adrian College, where college president Jeffrey Docking confirmed 131 positive cases as of last Monday. The Adrian Daily Telegraph reports the number rose to 200 cases by the end of last week, though the college hasn’t confirmed that total.

wikimedia commons

The health department in Lenawee County is recommending that Adrian College stop in-person classes after more than 150 people at the college tested positive for COVID-19.

The county also issued an emergency order to limit the size of gatherings in and around the college. Outdoor social gatherings are limited to no more than 25 people. Indoor social gatherings are limited to 10 people. Anyone who violates the emergency order could be charged with a misdemeanor.

a chevy bolt
General Motors

General Motors and Honda plan to form an alliance.  

The companies say they want to team up on developing vehicles for the North American market. The vehicles may share certain parts, but will still be sold under each company’s brand.

titikul_b / Adobe Stock

A West Michigan-based child services agency says there’s been an increase in people looking to become foster parents. Bethany Christian Services is based in Grand Rapids, but places foster children throughout the U.S. It has seen a 55% increase in people attending foster care informational meetings from April through June compared to January through March of this year.

Dustin Dwyer / Michigan Radio

City leaders in Grand Rapids say they’re not yet ready to talk about ways to defund the police department.

Instead, the focus is on a new strategic plan for the department which was presented to commissioners Tuesday.

Dustin Dwyer / Michigan Radio

The Grand Rapids Police Department has released a draft of a new strategic plan after many in the community called for defunding the department.

The plan would convert all current patrol officers to community-based officers assigned to specific neighborhoods, and incoming 911 calls will be managed so that sworn officers only respond when they’re needed.


Peter Meijer, an Iraq war veteran and heir to a multibillion dollar fortune, has won the Republican primary for Michigan’s 3rd Congressional District.

Meijer declared victory around 10:30 p.m. Tuesday night, after early results showed him with a substantial lead over the other four Republicans running in the race. As of late Tuesday evening, Meijer had 49.7% of the votes, with more than two third of precincts in the district reporting. The next closest challenger was state Rep. Lynn Afendoulis, with 24.5% of votes at the time.

A long table surrounded by red chairs in a school classroom.
BES Photos / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Grand Rapids Public Schools says it plans to have online-only instruction for the first nine weeks of the school year.

Superintendent Leadrianne Roby says the district will follow the state’s guidance and decide whether to return to in-person teaching in October.

lake michigan coastline
Dustin Dwyer / Michigan Radio

Lakes Michigan and Huron have been at record levels for each month so far this year. But water levels are expected to decline before they reach the all-time high water mark.

Great Lakes water levels fluctuate throughout the year, so the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers tracks records for each month.

Dustin Dwyer / Michigan Radio

The Grand Rapids police chief and community leaders are urging residents to get involved to stop the surge in gun violence in the city.

Grand Rapids has seen 19 homicides so far this year, more than in all of 2019. On Thursday, police said a stray bullet hit a 2-year-old in the arm.

Courtesy of Jonathan Marko

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is issuing an emergency rule to ban child care facilities from using the type of restraint that led to the death of a 16-year-old in Kalamazoo. The agency says it will also require all licensed facilities to notify children’s families within 12 hours whenever any type of restraint is used, and notify the agency within 24 hours.

“We are moving toward the goal of ending the use of restraints in institutional settings,” said MDHHS director Robert Gordon. “Restraints are too often used as an easy way to control youth in place of the harder, but necessary work of evidence based practices that help young people address mental health challenges and heal and overcome trauma.”

Dustin Dwyer / Michigan Radio

After hearing more than four hours worth of comments from the public and debating amongst themselves past midnight, Grand Rapids city commissioners did not make any dramatic changes to the police department budget.

Commissioners did vote on an amendment to the city’s budget which will result in a reduction of nearly $400,000 to the police department’s budget this year. Those changes will move the Oversight and Public Accountability Department out of the Grand Rapids Police Department, and increase its staffing. The amendment will also create a new civilian assistant director for the police department, a new communications manager and reduce costs by cutting overtime and supplies, among other changes.

Courtesy of Jonathan Marko

Attorneys for the family of Cornelius Fredericks have released the video documenting the 16-year old's death at a Kalamazoo youth facility. Fredericks died May 1 after being improperly restrained by youth facility staff. The Kalamazoo County medical examiner ruled the death a homicide, and three staff members at the facility are facing criminal charges.

The video shows at least eight people participating in holding down Fredericks after he threw a sandwich in a cafeteria.

sign that says "DEFEND DACA"
Flickr user Harrie van Veen https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

A nonprofit is offering free help to immigrants who need to renew their application for the federal deferred action program.

The U.S. Supreme Court decided in June not to strike down the program, known as DACA.

But recipients still need to renew their status every two years.


The owners of nearly 150 locally-owed bars and restaurants in Michigan have signed on to a promise to meet or exceed all health recommendations during the pandemic.

The owners organized the promise after videos spread online showing some businesses ignoring the recommendations, and Governor Gretchen Whitmer ordered indoor bars in much of lower Michigan to once again shut down.

Paulette Parker / Michigan Radio

Books about race continue to dominate best seller lists. Weeks after outrage spilled into the streets over the killing of George Floyd, readers - mostly white readers, it seems - are trying to learn more about the work of anti-racism. Clearly, as many have pointed out, reading alone is not enough.

Dustin Dwyer / Michigan Radio

A controversial statue that shows a confederate soldier will remain in a West Michigan park.

The Board of Trustees for Allendale Township voted Tuesday night to keep the statue.