Applications Now Sought for Study Committee on Independent Police Oversight

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Vehicles used by ELPD officers while out on patrol.

Less than 24 hours after Council’s unanimous vote to form a study committee to advise on formation of an Independent Police Oversight Commission, the City of East Lansing announced applications are open for those who want to serve on the study committee.

The deadline for applying is Friday, June 26, 2020, and the application is available online. The short application asks about educational and employment history and requires applicants to write about why they believe they would be good candidates for this volunteer committee.

According to a press release from the City, “The City Council is seeking individuals from affected communities, such as African Americans, Muslims and immigrants, to serve on the Study Committee. Council is also seeking people with professional experience in de-escalation, appropriate policing methods and police-community relations.”

Just about the only people not eligible are those who are active-duty police officers. Members of the community and East Lansing’s Human Relations Commission told Council that they felt having an active-duty officer on the study committee would subvert the intent.

That hasn’t made everybody happy. The Police Officers Association of Michigan (POAM), the “recognized exclusive bargaining representative” of ELPD’s police unions, sent Mayor Ruth Beier a letter this week “demand[ing] to bargain the impact of the proposed [study committee] upon our membership in the Police Department.”

That letter was not mentioned at Tuesday night’s discussion. ELi reported last week that POAM had blasted the emerging plans for the study committee.

The resolution passed by Council calls for the eleven committee members to be appointed by the Mayor with the consent of the Council. (City Council has five members, and the mayor is elected by the group from among the five.) Beier told ELi yesterday afternoon that she isn’t yet sure how Council will go through the applications.

Yesterday’s press release on the applications noted, “The study committee will include two MSU students (including one from the East Lansing University Student Commission), two members of the East Lansing Human Relations Commission, one member affiliated with the ACLU, one member affiliated with another civil rights-oriented organization (i.e. the NAACP, Black Lives Matter, etc.), one member with expertise in law enforcement standards (who is not an active duty police officer) and four additional people with pertinent expertise.”

A member of City Council will also be appointed as a non-voting liaison.

The purpose of the study committee is to come up with recommendations to City Council, ideally within six months, for formation of an independent police oversight commission. Talks about forming such a commission have been going on for years in East Lansing. 

ELi has a special section dedicated to our current reporting on East Lansing Policing. See it here.

Find an overview of our reporting on police oversight here.
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