Dustin Dwyer | Michigan Radio
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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.

Dustin Dwyer / Michigan Radio

Fifty-five bridges in the state of Michigan are closed.

In the small city of Ferrysburg, in Ottawa County on Friday, a crew of workers rolled out the orange barrels and closed the 56th.

Peeling lead paint.
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

The tobacco industry paid.

The asbestos industry paid.

The pharmaceutical industry is being forced to pay, with more on the way.

Dustin Dwyer / Michigan Radio

Today is the deadline Gov. Gretchen Whitmer set for a deal to be reached between her administration and the Benton Harbor Area Schools board over the district’s future.

Dustin Dwyer / Michigan Radio

Members of the school board for Benton Harbor Area Schools say they plan to submit a plan to Governor Gretchen Whitmer on Wednesday to try to save the city’s high school.

The governor’s office says the district is $18.4 million in debt. She says closing the high school will save money and keep the entire district from dissolving. 

Dustin Dwyer / Michigan Radio

Zachery Thiel pulls a package from a yellow plastic tub, scans it into the system with a beep, and pops it into an empty slot on a tall shelf to his right. When the shelf has no more empty slots, he hits a button and the shelf whirs away into the depths of the warehouse, while another slides in behind it, ready to be filled.

It takes only a second or two, and Thiel repeats it over and over during the course of his 10-hour shift at Amazon’s new fulfillment center in Romulus. 

Public domain

U.S. Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib wants law enforcement to stop using facial recognition software to identify criminal suspects.

A report from the Georgetown Law Center on Privacy and Technology found Detroit is one of the first and largest cities to use the technology.

The report also says the software makes mistakes, especially when it's used to identify people with darker skin. Those mistakes can lead to false arrests. 

Dustin Dwyer / Michigan Radio

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer says leaders at Benton Harbor Area Schools will get an extra week to come up with a plan to keep the district’s high school open. Whitmer took two hours of comments and questions during a town hall with residents in Benton Harbor on Wednesday.

Dustin Dwyer / Michigan Radio

Governor Whitmer is expected in Benton Harbor this afternoon for a town hall meeting about the city’s school district. Whitmer’s administration says Benton Harbor High School must shut down to keep the district out of financial insolvency.

Hundreds gathered in the city last night to oppose that plan.

Some drove in from around the state where schools have closed in the past.

Dustin Dwyer / Michigan Radio

U.S. Representative Justin Amash says he’s not worried about losing his seat, despite facing criticism from members of his own party for saying President Donald Trump engaged in “impeachable conduct.”

Amash (R-Cascade Township) spoke during a town hall event on Tuesday night in Grand Rapids.

He also called on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to begin impeachment proceedings against Trump.

"I think it would be appropriate for her to proceed with that," Amash said. 

John Seung-Hwan Shin / Wikimedia Commons Creative Commons license https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/deed.en

  

U.S. Reps. Rashida Tlaib and Justin Amash raised questions this week in a hearing about the use of facial recognition technology by law enforcement agencies, including Detroit Police Department.

The hearing was held Wednesday by the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Reform.

Dustin Dwyer / Michigan Radio

Grand Rapids city commissioners are expected to vote on the city’s $553 million budget at tonight’s meeting.

The budget calls for hiring an additional 26 staff. That includes two new police officers and other support staff for the department.

The city will increase spending on parks and road improvements, but still sock away a few million dollars for its rainy day fund.

Ann Arbor at sunset.
Jodi Westrick / Michigan Radio

Ann Arbor’s 2020 budget will be on the table for a vote at the Monday meeting of the city council.

The proposed budget calls for $430 million in spending for the next fiscal year. That’s up about nine percent compared to the current budget.

congressional map of Michigan
Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

Some wild stuff is about to go down in Michigan politics, and it all has to do with maps.

Normally, the maps that mark political districts get redrawn every 10 years.

But now there’s a good chance in Michigan the maps will get redrawn twice just in the next two years.

Dustin Dwyer / Michigan Radio

A senior Grand Rapids police officer could face disciplinary action over the case of a U.S. citizen who was detained by immigration authorities last year.

Captain Curt VanderKooi was originally cleared by an internal affairs investigation by the GRPD. The department’s investigation said VanderKooi was justified in contacting U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement because he had concerns the original arrest could be related to a terrorist plot.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

The Michigan Department of Civil Rights says it’s investigating 23 separate incidents of alleged discrimination by the Grand Rapids Police Department.

The 23 incidents include two incidents referred by the ACLU of Michigan last month.

The ACLU of Michigan filed a complaint in the case of Jilmar Ramos-Gomez, a Marine combat veteran and U.S. citizen who was detained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to face possible deportation after a referral from the Grand Rapids Police Department. It also filed a complaint against the GRPD over an incident in which a Hispanic 15-year-old was stopped for jaywalking. The officer on the scene drew his gun on the 15-year-old.

U.S. Department of Education

U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos says she hopes Michigan will allow public money to be spent on tuition for private schools in the “foreseeable future.”

DeVos and her family have supported school voucher programs in the state for years. But voters rejected the idea in 2000.

DeVos raised the issue Monday while speaking at the Education Writers Association conference in Baltimore.

Dustin Dwyer / Michigan Radio

Hundreds of people marched peacefully across the state on Wednesday, calling for the state to issue driver’s licenses to people regardless of their immigration status. People marched in Detroit, Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo.

Sergio Cira was one of the organizers of the Grand Rapids march. He says undocumented immigrants are held back from contributing to the community when they can’t get a driver’s license.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Immigrant’s rights marches are planned for Wednesday in Detroit, Ann Arbor, Kalamazoo and Grand Rapids.

Demonstrators are calling for the state to issue driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants. The annual marches have drawn thousands of people into the streets in years past.

This year, the city of Grand Rapids is threatening arrests if demonstrators block traffic as they have in previous years.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Plans for an enhanced barrier to try to keep Asian carp out of the Great Lakes might have just taken a crucial step forward.

The plan would fortify the existing Brandon Road Lock and Dam near Joliet, Ill. to attempt to block carp from getting to Lake Michigan.

The project just got a signoff from the Illinois governor to go into a pre-construction and design phase.

Molly Flanagan is with the Alliance for the Great Lakes. She says it’s a big project, but it’s an essential one to keep invasive Asian carp out of the lakes.

courtesy Movimiento Cosecha GR

Two years ago, we shared with you the story of a young immigrant in Grand Rapids.

Brandon Reyes is part of a generation of immigrants known as dreamers, who arrived in the United States as children.

Dustin Dwyer / Michigan Radio

People started gathering more than an hour before the meeting.

Dustin Dwyer / Michigan Radio

The Grand Rapids police department doesn’t need more officers. It needs more civilian staff and better organization.

That’s the conclusion from a new study commissioned by the city.

The city paid about $100,000 for the study, which was done by the consulting firm Hillard Heintze.

Debra Kirby of Hillard Heintze presented the results to city commissioners on Tuesday. She said the city’s police department cut back on civilian staff when the economy was bad.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement - or ICE - agents
U.S. Air Force

Local law enforcement would be required to cooperate with federal immigration officers, under a pair of bills that moved forward in Lansing Tuesday.

A number of people spoke out against the bills at a hearing of the House Military, Veterans and Homeland Security Committee. 

One of them was Maria Salazar. She told lawmakers if the bill becomes law, she’s afraid it will lead to more racial profiling and discrimination by police.

“I’m a U.S. citizen but I am afraid of them,” she told the lawmakers. “My kids are US citizens and they are afraid of the police officers.”

NOAA

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is starting spring work on maintaining the state’s fish population.

The DNR says it expects to collect about 30 million eggs from walleye in the Muskegon River in the coming weeks. The state also collects eggs from steelhead on the Little Manistee River.

Photo submitted by Joshua Mango

Applications are opening up for summer jobs across Michigan.

One of the state’s larger summer jobs programs is in Detroit.

Jason Lee is head of the Grow Detroit’s Young Talent Program. He says a few years ago, the program served about 2,000 young people in the city.

flickr.com/ubookworm / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/

Michigan asparagus farmers hope to see higher prices before the crop is harvested later this spring.

Asparagus prices have been affected by imports of the vegetable in recent years.

“Right now we’re just watching the market,” says John Bakker of the Michigan Asparagus Advisory Board. “Who knows, the market could be super by the time that we get into the harvest in May, but we don’t know at this time.”

Dustin Dwyer / Michigan Radio

A West Michigan mother says she hopes Michigan policymakers will intervene to spare her son from deportation.

Marilú Parra-Velázquez says she brought her son Brandon Reyes to the U.S. from Mexico when he was five.

For him, Grand Rapids is home, she says. He’s active in his community and in his church, and she says he’s a good role model for his two younger sisters, who are U.S. citizens.

“Our family, the suffering we feel,” Parra-Velázquez said at a press conference today near Grand Rapids. She spoke in Spanish.

Mis hijas lo extraña mucho.”

Grand Rapids Police Department station
Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

The ACLU of Michigan has asked a civilian board to review a controversial case involving the Grand Rapids Police Department.

The case is over Jilmar Ramos-Gomez. He’s a U.S. citizen and a war veteran. He was mistakenly detained by immigration authorities last year based on a tip from the GRPD.

Photo by Dustin Dwyer. Statement by Grand Rapids Police Command Officers Association.

This has been a contentious week for officials in Grand Rapids city government. The city is dealing with the fallout over the case of Jilmar Ramos-Gomez, a U.S. citizen and war veteran who was mistakenly detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement based on a tip from Grand Rapids police.

Grand Rapids Police Department station
Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

The Grand Rapids police department has placed one of its senior commanders on administrative leave.

The city says it’s reviewing the actions of GRPD captain Curt VanderKooi in a case that led to a U.S. citizen being detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

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