Michigan State Police to get body cameras in new state budget

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LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – It was just more than two months ago when 37-year-old Randy Jenkins was shot and killed by a Michigan state police officer in Bennington Township.

According to the officer, Jenkins pulled out a gun first, but there was no bodycam footage. They only had what was recorded on the trooper’s dashcam.

The he-said, she-said of this scenario should hopefully be a thing of the past after the latest state budget included funds to provide body cameras to all MSP officers.

“For the community, it certainly adds transparency,” said Michigan State University criminal justice professor David Carter. “It also aids in accountability in terms of having a recorded event to refer back to in case of a complaint.”

Carter says this has benefits for law enforcement as well

“Officers are increasingly using them to assist investigations and even in report writing,” he said. “In balanced places that have used them, preliminary evaluation has shown that officers like them.”

Dale Copedge is the president of the Lansing chapter of the NAACP.

He thinks overall this is a positive.

Statistics show the Black community is disproportionately affected by police violence and all he’s asking for is fairness.

“Being able to look at the footage in any perspective or whatever it may be gives everybody a chance to get fair justice and that’ what we’re looking for,” Copedge said. “Without that, it’s just your word against the officer’s word.”

Still, both carter and Copedge admittedly have their concerns.

“For one the footage isn’t always great,” Carter said. “And there may have been a precipitating event in an encounter that simply was not recorded.”

“The downside of it is when people may move the camera a certain way where it doesn’t capture the whole event,” Copedge said. “That’s where it may be a problem.”

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