Facial recognition technology still a concern but Michigan a national leader

By BRIDGET BUSH
Capital News Service
LANSING– Michigan State Police get such high marks for overseeing automated photo searches for criminals, according to a recent report by a national group examining privacy and law enforcement, that the state is a model for the nation.  
But the Georgetown Law Center on Privacy and Technology also recommends that using driver license photos in such searches, as the Michigan State Police does, should only occur after state legislatures vote to allow them. And if allowed, the states should notify the public of their use, the study said. Right now police must provide “appropriate justification for use,” said Lori Dougovito, public affairs representative for the Michigan State Police. That means that law enforcement police can only search the database under reasonable cause or in the case of a citizen-filed complaint to remove their image.

Deer accidents by Michigan counties

By ALEXANDER SMITH
Capital News Service
See complete table

Percent Change
County
# of Accidents in 2015
# of accidents in 2014

28%
Van Buren
651
510

21%
Muskegon
541
447

18%
Marquette
295
249

16%
Berrien
830
716

16%
Ingham
1087
940

14%
Kent
1528
1338

14%
Bay
485
426

13%
Lenawee
651
574

13%
Alcona
443
391

13%
Ogemaw
418
370

12%
Calhoun
1009
900

12%
Washtenaw
1062
952

11%
Ottawa
970
874

11%
St. Joseph
484
437

10%
Isabella
907
823

10%
Ionia
494
450

10%
Kalamazoo
917
837

9%
Oscoda
144
132

8%
Cass
411
379

8%
Roscommon
306
283

8%
Tuscola
825
763

8%
Genesee
1037
964

7%
Menominee
160
149

7%
Livingston
773
722

7%
Otsego
226
211

7%
Oakland
1873
1750

7%
Lapeer
1230
1153

6%
Oceana
473
445

6%
Saginaw
882
831

5%
Hillsdale
814
773

5%
Missaukee
368
350

5%
Midland
828
791

4%
Iosco
198
190

4%
Branch
790
761

4%
St. Clair
784
755

4%
Jackson
1324
1279

3%
Montcalm
999
968

3%
Huron
937
909

3%
Shiawassee
783
760

2%
Newaygo
565
554

2%
Grand Traverse
629
619

2%
Mason
682
671

2%
Wayne
400
394

1%
Arenac
391
386

1%
Clare
517
512

1%
Allegan
838
831

0%
Macomb
630
627

0%
Montmorency
198
198

-1%
Eaton
1071
1077

-2%
Monroe
349
357

-3%
Lake
205
211

-3%
Osceola
588
608

-4%
Charlevoix
540
560

-4%
Manistee
455
474

-5%
Dickinson
400
419

-5%
Barry
595
624

-5%
Emmet
442
464

-6%
Clinton
959
1015

-6%
Gladwin
372
394

-6%
Gratiot
801
850

-6%
Chippewa
224
238

-6%
Alger
78
83

-6%
Antrim
409
435

-7%
Mecosta
737
792

-7%
Sanilac
980
1053

-7%
Leelanau
293
315

-7%
Ontonagon
140
151

-8%
Delta
488
532

-8%
Iron
229
250

-9%
Cheboygan
409
449

-12%
Benzie
281
319

-13%
Baraga
137
158

-14%
Crawford
228
265

-15%
Houghton
146
171

-15%
Alpena
291
341

-73%
Schoolcraft
119
437

-16%
Gogebic
42
50

-17%
Mackinac
221
267

-17%
Presque Isle
364
441

-18%
Keweenaw
18
22

-20%
Kalkaska
207
260

-28%
Wexford
343
479

-34%
Luce
54
82

Source: Michigan State Police

Why did the deer cross the road?

By ALEXANDER SMITH
Capital News Service
LANSING — If you hit a deer hard enough, it has to land somewhere. In Houghton Lake, vacationers had their trip cut short when a deer ran into the side of their truck, flipped into the air, punched a hole into the camper and thrashed around inside. “The whole inside was trashed with blood and guts,” said Sgt. Eric Sumpter of the State Police post in Cadillac. “It was just terrible.”
That’s just one example of what can happen when a deer darts out into traffic.

Gun crimes dipping in Michigan

By Andrew Merkle
Ingham County Chronicle Staff Reporter

Guns have a negative connotation for many Americans these days. Most news reports Americans see about guns describe the most recent mass shooting on United States soil or terror attack overseas. These stories can create the perception that gun crimes are on the rise, and sometimes the media is blamed for stirring the pot. In Michigan, however, gun crime is not on the rise. In fact, gun crimes have dipped in the past decade.

Pilot program for roadside drug checks proposed

By AMELIA HAVANEC
Capital News Service
LANSING – For years, police officers have used portable Breathalyzers to check drivers’ blood alcohol level. But there’s never been a portable marijuana-testing equivalent at officers’ disposal, according to Sen. Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge. Jones is sponsoring a bill with Sens. Tom Casperson, R-Escanaba, and Mike Nofs, R-Battle Creek, that would allow on-site drug checks. It would authorize State Police to collect Breathalyzer test results and saliva samples during a traffic stop for the duration of a year.

Bills could raise speed limits on state roads

By JOSH THALL
Capitol News Service
LANSING — A new package of bills would result in higher speed limits on state roads across Michigan and fewer “speed traps” set by local police departments, if passed and signed into law. The bills are designed to set optimum speeds on state roadways by relying on driver behavior, road conditions and accident data, according to officials with the Michigan State Police and the Michigan Department of Transportation. The package would also restrict local governments from arbitrarily lowering speed limits on sections of roadway, supporters said. A similar proposal was introduced two years ago by Republican Sen. Rick Jones of Grand Ledge, a former county sheriff who supports the bills. “The Michigan State Police gave a presentation on how, for 40 years, speed limits have been set scientifically and it has been shown to be the safest speed,” Jones said.

State Police reach out to diversify ranks

By CHEYNA ROTH
Capital News Service
LANSING – Lots of young people in Michigan want to be State Police troopers, but almost all of them are white men. The State Police, like law enforcement agencies across the country, are struggling to recruit minorities into their ranks. “The minority population, many of them, it’s not in their culture to become a police officer,” said Col. Kriste Kibbey Etue, director of the State Police. “When you look out at hiring, I would say that actually we’re blessed that we still get a lot of candidates, but we want to make sure that our workforce is diverse, too.”

Officials are working to broaden their appeal by becoming more visible to young people with diverse backgrounds.

Legislature seeks to limit police confiscation powers

By CAITLIN McARTHUR
Capital News Service
LANSING — Michigan lawmakers want to make it harder for law enforcement agencies to take people’s stuff when they’re not charged with a crime. Legislators have introduced bills to reform the state’s “civil forfeiture laws,” which they and civil liberties advocates say encourage abuse by police agencies and infringe on citizen rights. Civil forfeiture law in Michigan allows police and prosecutors to confiscate a person’s car, property or money if they suspect it has been used in criminal activity — even if the owner is not charged with a crime. This is different from criminal forfeiture law, which requires the owner to be convicted in court before the asset can be seized. The money and proceeds from seized assets — $24 million in 2013 — go into agency budgets.

Tax time is prime time for identity theft, officials warn

By JOSH THALL
Capital News Service
LANSING — Michigan residents suffer the nation’s sixth-highest rate of identity theft, and the approaching April 15 tax deadline makes people particularly vulnerable, officials said. Tax filing season leads to increased IRS scams, as people working on their taxes respond to fake requests out of fear of getting on the bad side of government, said Marco Jones, a community service trooper for the Michigan State Police, Lansing post. “Those (cases) are being reported to agencies across the state,” Jones said. “People will call and misrepresent themselves as a member of the IRS, basically trying to strongarm people over the phone, trying to get their information.”

People can protect themselves by refusing to give personal information over the phone and double-checking the source in mail and email communications, Jones said. Confirming mail communications with a phone call to the agency can also help.

Police body camera bill raises concerns over penalties

By CHEYNA ROTH
Capital News Service
LANSING – Law enforcement officials and prosecutors are raising concerns about hefty consequences proposed for officers failing to record their activity in recently introduced body camera legislation. The bill, written to increase accountability for police activity, would require judges and juries to accept the defendant’s version of events in cases where a recording is not made or is lost. The same standard would apply in civil cases or in complaints against police departments. “That’s a pretty heavy burden that the legislature would put on law enforcement and the prosecuting attorneys in Michigan,” said Traverse City defense attorney Paul Jarboe, who supports the use of body cameras. “I just think there is going to be too much opposition from law enforcement and the prosecuting attorneys association to put that heavy of a legal burden on law enforcement.”
Jarboe is right about the opposition.