LANSING, Mich. — Today, Sen. Stephanie Chang (D-Detroit) was joined by Lt. Governor Garlin Gilchrist II, Rep. Jason Wentworth (R-Clare), officials from law enforcement agencies, and community group leaders to announce Michigan’s Law Enforcement Transparency Collaborative, or LET-C, which will annually release Michigan-specific police use-of-force data collected by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
“For more than five years, I have championed legislation that would increase transparency through requiring statewide collection of use-of-force data from law enforcement agencies,” Sen. Chang said. “This term, I am glad to work with community and law enforcement partners on our Law Enforcement Transparency Collaborative, encouraging 100% participation in reporting use of force incidents. Increasing transparency is critical to building more trust. Our communities are asking for change, and today’s announcement is one more positive step forward.”
At the request of law enforcement agencies around the country, the FBI began collecting use-of-force data in January 2019. Participation is voluntary, and under this collaborative effort, the Michigan State Police have taken on the task of organizing and releasing a public report containing the use-of-force data submitted to the FBI by Michigan law enforcement agencies.
“The Michigan Sheriffs’ Association has 100% enrollment in the National Use-of-force Data Collection program and continue to be national leaders in their use of force reporting,” said Matthew Saxton, executive director of the Michigan Sheriffs’ Association. “Law enforcement leaders around the state understand the need for transparency in reporting on their efforts to keep everyone safe.”
Three types of use-of-force events are captured by the FBI. The three event types include:
“Publishing statistics about police use-of-force in Michigan is a good first step to providing insight to the public and others into how police officers in Michigan are using force, which should lead to more informed and productive conversations about this important topic,” stated Michigan State Police Director Col. Joe Gasper.
Before the FBI started collecting data, there was no national governmental database for police use of force. The only prior, existing database was started in 2015 by the Washington Post, and that contained data on fatal police shootings only. According to that database, there have been 78 police shootings in Michigan since 2015.
“On behalf of the Detroit Metro Advocates and Leaders for Police and Community Trust, the Michigan Roundtable for Diversity share their support in the Law Enforcement Transparency Collaborative,” said Yusef Shakur, co-director of programs for ALPACT and the Michigan Roundtable for Diversity and Inclusion. “With the recent murders of George Floyd, Tony McDade, Breonna Taylor and Ahmed Arbury, now more than ever we need transparency, accountability, and reform within the criminal justice and court systems, and LET-C is a step in this direction.”
The LET-C data collection initiative is designed to include the reporting incident date, the number and demographics of the officers involved, demographics of the subjects involved, and type of force used in the incident.
“Michigan has led the nation by providing a model for the rest of the country to emulate to get their police agencies reporting to the FBI’s National Use-of-Force Data Collection,” said Robert Stevenson, executive director of the Michigan Association of Chiefs of Police.
A total of 346 Michigan police agencies submitted use-of-force data to the FBI in 2019. Of these submissions, the majority of departments had zero reports of use of force, as defined by the FBI.
“I have appreciated working with Senator Chang on this bipartisan effort,” Rep. Wentworth said. “This is a statewide issue, and through the support and partnership with law enforcement and community agencies across the state, collecting and publishing this data will help increase transparency.”
Sen. Chang, Rep. Wentworth and Lt. Gov. Gilchrist are encouraging all police agencies in the state to participate in the LET-C project.
“We have an opportunity to reimagine the fundamental relationship of trust between communities of color and law enforcement, beginning with greater transparency and accountability,” Lt. Governor Gilchrist said. “Everyone has a role to play to ensure that we can make the generational investment that will create a more responsive and just system of safety for every person in every community in Michigan.”
The 2019 LET-C police use-of-force report can be found here:https://www.michigan.gov/documents/msp/Use_of_Force_Report_2019_693884_7.pdf
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