The Lansing Police Department will soon add a controversial new tool to its equipment list: 100 body cameras. Some law enforcement agencies in mid-Michigan are already experimenting with the devices. The Eaton County Sheriff’s Office has 25 body cameras on hand. In Ingham County, officers are testing a few cameras at the county jail, and the department is preparing to receiving more. The East Lansing and Michigan State University police departments are also planning to use body cameras. The device has evolved from a technological novelty to the centerpiece of a new front in the struggle for racial harmony and civil rights.
A string of high profile confrontations between police and citizens in such places as Ferguson, Missouri, North Charleston, South Carolina and Tulsa, Oklahoma have fueled calls for more police accountability. Likewise, police departments who support the use of body cameras say they can also protect officers from unjust accusations. The city of Lansing hopes to create a temporary policy on police body cameras by this summer.
Current State’s Kevin Lavery spoke with Lansing Police Chief Mike Yankowski about the issue.