East Lansing City Council discuss resolutions for creating a temporary police oversight commission

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The East Lansing City Council discussed public safety and police reform that led to lively four-hour council meeting on June 23 which was conducted via Zoom due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Issues ranging from an East Lansing Police Officer Andrew Stephenson, who was accused of using excessive force on a black man back December has been a controversial topic from Lansing citizens calling into the meeting.

Police reform, public safety, and defunding the police were among many other issues that have no solution that was discussed in the meeting.

“The agenda item is certainly not the whole solution but it’s part of it, it’s an idea,” City Councilwoman Lisa Babcock said.

The council discussed the intent of a Temporary Process for Review of Complaints About Police Conduct. This temporary review proposed by Lisa Babcock would make council member aware of racial complaints, discrimination, police misconduct, use of force by the East Lansing Police Department including video footage.

“The police when they’re investigating complaints of either other people or their own officers, they do prefer that this type of information not necessarily be made public because it could interfere with their investigations,” Councilman Tom Yeadon said.

During the meeting Babcock’s offered the proposal because she said she was humiliated, and believe other councilmembers also were, to discover there had been incidents with police that the council was not informed about.

Yeadon said: “That’s why council has not received all the information that they might have wanted in the past because of the radisson of the police to give out information that might otherwise interfere with their investigation.”

This proposal would forward information of all complaints filed against the police to all Council members, the Human Relations Commission, Study Committee on an Independent Police Oversight Commission, the City Manager, the Chief of Police, the Director of Human Resources, and the Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Administrator, within three business days after the complaint is filed.

“I think we should be able to know when a complaint involving excessive force, and I think now we’re sort of getting that information,” Councilman Mark Meadows said. “We certainly want to see the compliant so we can evaluate how serious it looks so that we can be anticipating how we may want to respond with regard to it in the future.”

Babcock also plans to further detail her review complaint of police conduct proposal at the next city council meeting Tuesday at 7 p.m. Babcock said she wants the public to weigh in on the proposal because this is a community project. 

Babcock is forming a Study Committee that will be comprised of 11 voting members, and one non-voting city council member who will act as a liaison.

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