EAST LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – According to a new report, the East Lansing Police Department has a few things they could improve.

The report, conducted by CNA, examined the following six topics:

  • organizational justice and culture
  • community relations
  • interactions and perspectives
  • training and technology
  • traffic enforcement
  • use of force and complaints
  • early intervention systems

Use of Force

CNA found that the way use-of-force reports are recorded created data inconsistencies.

The report also said that ELPD does not gather all the necessary information important to use-of-force events.

It was also deduced that the way ELPD records information on use-of-force cases does not allow for data on every event, officer, type of force, injury, or involved person to be collected.

Organizational Justice and Culture

Multiple policing policies were determined by CNA to use language that’s too generic, poorly written and have “accountability escape clauses.”

Some ELPD processes also rely on the discretion of the Chief of Police, which the report says may be unnecessary or inappropriate.

Additionally, morale among employees is low, and around half of ELPD survey respondents felt that the ELPD’s procedure for investigating complaints was not fair.

Community Relations, Interactions and Perspectives

Policies on interacting with people who have mental illnesses “requires significant revision,” the report said.

CNA found that the department does not adequately explain processes regarding underage victims or witnesses.

The report then says that trust between East Lansing police and its community could be better, citing that there was a disconnect between the department and City Council.

The firm also stated in its report that the current number of employees may not be adequate.

Training and Technology

Both lethal and defensive tactics were found to be of “high liability” by CNA.

Firearms training was deemed as unclear, and certain training policies were need improvement, specifically ones related to technology.

Traffic Enforcement

One thing that the CNA positively recognized ELPD for was its traffic enforcement policies.

Despite the positive, it was found that Black drivers were stopped more than white drivers on average, with a “statistically nonsignificant magnitude of 1.08” compared to non-Black drivers.

Use of Force Complaints

The East Lansing Police Department’s policies need “significant revision.”

Policies regarding the sanctity of life could “go a step further” and Policy 12-20 allows for the use of head stabilization, something the report describes as problematic.

Around 18% of ELPD officers were involved in three or more complaints, and 22% of officers were involved in seven or more use-of-force events during a two-year period.

One-quarter of the use-of-force events involved disorderly conduct or a mental health investigation, while arrests that involved offenses against family, children, and burglaries resulted in arrests more than 50% of the time.

The report found that ELPD officers use predominately low levels of force in their use-of-force events — around 62%.

However, 24% of use-of-force events involved officers brandishing a firearm.

Black people were arrested disproportionately and use-of-force events were elevated when compared to white people.

In the early intervention system (EIS) portion, the report found the ELPD’s approach to its EIS was “reasonable” but could still be considered disciplinary, and that certain policies could be revised.

The full 146-page report can be found by clicking here.

ELPD’s Response

Chief Kim Johnson said the information is enlightening and provides a basis to work upon.

“We accept those recommendations and findings from a standpoint of the improvement and we look forward to working on many of those in the couple of years or so,” said Kim.

It terms of issues with the use of force reporting and traffic data, he said the department has made improvements since 2020.

“Things we are doing now would be captured since 20-20. so we are not excited about it but we already know we are ahead of the curve in reference to things they want us to do that we are already doing for the last two years,” he said.

As for what’s next, he said he plans to meet with department members to find ways to begin tackling issues highlighted by the report.