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Over 50% of police encounters with minors were with Black minors, East Lansing police reports

February 2, 2023
<p>East Lansing Police Oversight Commission meeting on Feb. 01, 2023.</p>

East Lansing Police Oversight Commission meeting on Feb. 01, 2023.

Photo by Henry Szymecko | The State News

The East Lansing Police Department, or ELPD, reported a separate 21 incidents in which a minor was transported, arrested, issued a citation, or stopped from July to December 2022. 12 of the 21 incidents involved a Black minor. 

In addition, five of the 11 reported incidents where an officer used force, it included force being used on a Black minor, according to the December 2022 use of force report.

The department also reported 19 incidents in which department employees transported, arrested, issued a citation to or stopped a person who is or appears to be experiencing homelessness from July to December 2022.

More than 50% of the incidents reported included a Black man. Black people make-up 6.8% of  East Lansing’s population as compared to 77.4% white population, according to the U.S census

The findings of these reports were discussed by the city’s Independent Police Oversight Commission at their Feb. 1 meeting. 

Commissioner Ron Fink, citing an incident in the report in which five white officers and a social worker were deployed to an 18-year-old Black female subject home experiencing a crisis, said the excessive amount of white officers deployed to the subject’s house would make her uncomfortable.

“You have a Black community that already doesn't trust the police in general in this community,” Fink said. “There’s still gonna be that stigma there, right? That could have actually caused this woman to kill herself.”

Commissioner and social worker Amanda Morgan said it’s important to recognize what could be a trigger for individuals in crisis, which may include an all-white team of deployed officers.

The police department only has one social worker who works during the day, according to ELPD Capt. Chad Pride.

The commission made a recommendation to the department in regards to the completed investigation into a complaint filed by Sean Flanagan, who alleged ELPD officers Jeff Horn and Brittany Monroe performed an illegal search and seizure of his nephew and his nephew's belongings after he had a seizure in front of Target on Grand River Avenue on May 23, 2022.

Flanagan's nephew was unnamed in the investigation documents.

The complaint investigation conducted by ELPD Captain Chad Pride found that the officers violated ELPD's "exception to the search warrant rule," as Flanagan's nephew did not consent to the search of him and his belongings, was not in custody, under arrest or in need of assistance for the protection of his life during the search. 

Flanagan's nephew was told by officers he needed to stay until paramedics checked him out, also violating ELPD policy regarding "persons refusing EMS care."

Pride’s investigation concluded the "fair and impartial policing" policy was not violated, along with code of conduct, assault and battery, false imprisonment and harassment policies.

The commissioners recommended the department seek an external, outside-agency review of the incident to determine whether it was a use of force and recommended that the department further review its policies and procedures on use-of-force reporting.

The commissioners discussed the Center for Naval Analyses’ Fair and Impartial Policing Assessment of the department. 

“According to this report, there is no statistically non-significant magnitude in the disparity between Black and non-black drivers that are being stopped,” Commissioner Shawn Farzam said. “Maybe our police aren't as racist as everybody thinks. It's finally not, 'he said, she said, this experience, that experience.' This is hardcore data.”

In response, Commissioner Jamie White said technology exists to deal with traffic infractions. 

“We’re putting so much resources into chasing people around in cars,” White said. “I think that there certainly are times when pursuits are necessary, whether individuals are posing a danger to the community, or you're wanting for a very serious crime. But tragic incidents are leading to violent, fatal outcomes.”

Fink said he believes police are great, but bad cops exist and there is still a fear of police among Black children.

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“Today, I spent some time at the middle school with some students, all Black students. And we're talking about fear. What is fear mean to you? You know, how does it feel what scares you? The police came up regardless of what statistics are out there,” Fink said. “There is still still some community distress. We have to accept that.”

The commission will meet again on March 1 at the Hannah Community Center. 

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