police

Juli Liebler photo
Courtesy city of East Lansing

Juli Liebler is retiring as East Lansing’s chief of police. Current State’s Kevin Lavery talks with her about her career.


“It’s every citizen’s right to film the police.” Those are the words of ACLU Michigan Executive Kary Moss. The occasion was this week’s announcement that the civil liberties organization would offer a free smartphone app that enables users to videotape police encounters. The Mobile Justice Michigan app would then automatically send the video to the ACLU for review.

Kevin Lavery/WKAR

Earlier this month, President Obama issued an executive order banning the federal government from issuing certain types of military equipment to local police departments. The action is in response to an outcry over a militarized show of force during protests last summer in Ferguson, Missouri.

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.

Last week, two key events in the arena of civil rights took place within days of each other, though one received much more attention than the other. On Thursday, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder released a stinging report on the practices of the Ferguson, Missouri police department. Three days before, a presidential task force submitted a report offering recommendations for building trust between communities and the police. Here in Michigan, a sustained effort to create that sense of trust has been quietly underway for years.

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