Community, experts discuss police use of force at East Lansing public hearing

The Oversight Commission stated that this would not be the last public hearing and that more would follow.
Published: Mar. 29, 2023 at 10:50 PM EDT
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EAST LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - The East Lansing Independent Police Oversight Commission held a public hearing on Wednesday night to discuss best practices in police use of force.

The hearing comes in the wake of three officer-involved shootings in the greater Lansing area over the past year. One of the incidents occurred in the city of Lansing, another in a Bath Township trailer park, and the third at an East Lansing Meijer store.

“Changing policing is not a small or easy thing,” said Christine Root, the Vice Chair of the commission. “So, we’re starting with really listening to people who have knowledge of national organizations who have put a lot of time into trying to develop the best practices.”

During the hearing, one panelist, Dr. Angie Weis Gammell, a policy director for the Wilson Center for Science and Justice at Duke University, suggested that East Lansing could make changes to its policies regarding the use of force. She noted that national policies emphasize the importance of using proportionality when deciding whether to use force. For example, for lower-level crimes or traffic enforcement, it may be better to avoid using force to detain someone who is resisting or trying to escape.

The hearing was attended by members of the community, including Karrington Kelsey, a resident and member of Black Lives Matter Lansing. Kelsey expressed hope that the hearing would spark conversations about how to make policing less harmful.

“I hope people leave with the question of why do we have policing as the way it is today? How can we make policing less harmful?” Kelsey said. “How can we protect Black and brown children as they move around East Lansing.”

The Oversight Commission stated that this would not be the last public hearing and that more would follow. At present, there is no set date for the next one. More information can be found on the East Lansing website.

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