WEDNESDAY, July 8 — A virtual meeting designed to garner public input today on the Lansing Police Department’s use-of-force policies likely won’t lead to much meaningful change after only about a dozen citizens attended and just three speakers commented.
The session marked the first in a series of “virtual community meetings” hosted by an advisory panel of the Lansing Police Board. The meetings are set to continue through the end of August, but with very little input provided during tonight’s meeting, it’s unclear whether it’ll lead to anything productive.
“They did a good job listening and answering questions,” Lansing Mayor Andy Schor said, referring to a period where Lansing Police Chief Daryl Green briefly explained the necessity of tactical snipers on rooftops during a protest against police brutality, among a few other topics.
“We live in a United States that has over millions of guns and anytime we have a large quadrant of people, protesters and counter-protesters, we have to remain in a state of preparedness,” Green said in response to a question about the city’s handling of recent downtown protests.
In response to a question from City Pulse, he didn’t elaborate on whether any other “large quadrants” of people gathered downtown in recent years required cops with rifles on rooftops.
Green spent much of the rest of the meeting with his microphone (accidentally) muted. Several others who registered to speak weren’t in attendance. One speaker voiced concerns about his safety and a growing disrespect for local cops. Another urged further deescalation policies.
“Regardless of the policies on restraint and force, it won’t do much good with an increase in disrespect for law enforcements,” said Thomas Hamlin, noting city property is “in jeopardy.”
City officials, after first attempting to limit public comment at the meeting to 15 speakers last month, warned that the number of comments may need to be limited, encouraging residents to RSVP for a guaranteed spot by calling 517-483-6040. A handful called ahead. Just three spoke.
“There were a variety of opinions expressed, and they were all very respectful and relevant to the use of force conversation and review by the Police Board of Commissioners,” Schor said. “Chief Green answered questions posed, even though the intent was only to take comment.”
The next virtual community meetings are scheduled for July 22 and Aug. 19 at 5:30 p.m. Feedback from tonight and the other upcoming meetings will be compiled into a report that will be used — at least theoretically — to generate recommendations for possible policy changes.
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