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Independent Police Oversight Commission Coming To EL

police car with lights
flickr/Scott Davidson

  East Lansing is creating an independent commission to oversee the city’s police department.


Like many police departments, the one in East Lansing has been confronted with allegations of unnecessary use of force. That has led to a recent survey of residents and a public forum on policing.

The survey found African American residents are more satisfied than dissatisfied with the department, but at a rate that was 26 points lower than all city respondents.

  City Manager George Lahanas says he expects people will be tapped to join the independent oversight commission by mid-June. Lahanas explains that “they will be looking at data, they will be looking at complaints, will be able to review complaints and offer an opinion on complaints that may be different than what the department says.”

Preliminary work is being done by a temporary committee. Lahanas expects the city council to make policy recommendations on the creation of the commission in June. “Typically, our commissions have seven or nine members. This study committee had 11 members," Lahanas adds. "They do not have to be residents. Council appointed people based on their backgrounds and expertise, to get a diversity of people and diversity of backgrounds and a diversity of perspectives.”

Lahanas hopes a follow-up survey will show East Lansing is building trust in the police department.

Scott Pohl is a general assignment news reporter and produces news features and interviews. He is also an alternate local host on NPR's "Morning Edition."
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