INGHAM COUNTY, Mich. (WLNS) — Police officers and sheriffs are pushing back against a new policy that would lead to fewer criminal charges in Ingham county.
Ingham County prosecutor Carol Siemon announced yesterday that her office will not be charging people with crimes that were uncovered during non public-safety related traffic stops.
Law enforcement from across mid-Michigan responded today, and they were not happy about the county prosecutor’s decision.
“I don’t want anyone in the community to think I’m looking to fill the Ingham County jail. That’s actually the last thing I’m looking to do, but there has to be consequences…”
Ingham County Sheriff Scott Wrigglesworth didn’t mince words about the new rule that prosecutor Carol Siemon put in place.
While Wriggelsworth says that there needs to be accountability- the sheriff essentially said Siemon can have her rules… he’ll have his.
“I recognize I have no say in how the elected prosecutor does her job. It’s not going to change the way we do business at the Sheriff’s office and I’ve told prosecutor Siemon that personally”, continues Wriggelsworth.
His sentiments were echoed unanimously by nearly a dozen different law enforcement agencies from the area, but Siemon sees the situation very differently.
Siemon believes that vehicle searches are at the root of the problem, because when officers pull someone over for a broken tail light or cracked windshield, using that as a reason to search a car, statistics show that is disproportionately driven by a person of color.
We have had some very bad outcomes and we don’t want those outcomes in Ingham county… With the view in mind that by reducing some of the kind of police contacts that have been more troubling nationally, that that reduces the likelihood that we have death or serious injury for a community member or a police officer here locally.”Ingham County Prosecutor Carol Siemon
Officers like Lansing Township Police Chief John Joseph think there’s other ways to address racial inequality,
“The prosecutor should consider using her influence to create a more equitable system that truly is blind to a person’s race, gender, economic and educational status because removing tools from law enforcement’s tool box and handcuffing the police during a time of unprecedented violent crime in our community is ill-timed.”
Both sides realize there’s only so much they can do. Police officers can enforce rules, but can’t impose charges. The prosecutor can not charge things, but can’t stop officers from making stops on the street.
Evidently, this is going to take some compromise, now we just see how things play out from here.