East Lansing Police Department says it will change body camera policy

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EAST LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) — The East Lansing Police Department said it will change a part of its body camera policy, in light of some of its confusing wording.

East Lansing Mayor, Aaron Stephens, said there shouldn’t be any mistakes with police body cameras.

“A raincoat over the body camera, or there’s you know little things where a batteries dead or something fails to get switched on. It just can’t happen,” Mayor Stephens said.

At a City Council Meeting, the mayor told East Lansing Police Chief, Kim Johnson, that changes needed to be made.

Chief Johnson agreed and said the department’s body cam policy has some gray areas.

“Some of our policies are a little vague with that when it comes to the body camera itself,” Chief Johnson said.

East Lansing Deputy Chief, Steve Gonzalez, said the current policy requires police officers wear a body camera attached to their uniform, and turned on during any law enforcement activity.

“A traffic stop, a general call for service, an arrest,” Deputy Chief Gonzalez said.

The policy also outlines where the body camera should be worn.

“It has to be placed in a position that it’s going to capture an accurate representation of what the officer is seeing, and what they’re doing,” Deputy Chief Gonzalez said.

The policy says officer’s should have the camera on the outer layer of their clothing.

However, another section only recommends the camera be on that outer layer. That’s where the gray area is.

“The uniform policy says that it shall be moved to the outer most garment… and the Axon recording system policy says that it is recommended to be moved to the outer most garment,” Deputy Chief Gonzalez said.

Deputy Chief Gonzalez said some officers may mistake the policy as a suggestion and not a requirement. So now, he said they’ll update the language so both policies say “shall.”

Mayor Stephens said fixing the policy is a step towards being more transparent with the community.

“It is a level of accountability that our citizens expect, and should deserve,” Mayor Stephens said.

The department said it’ll make the change sometime this week, after Chief Johnson signs off on it.
Then it’ll update its officers to make sure everyone’s on the same page.

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