Michigan State Police in the Great Lakes Bay area equipped with body cameras
WILLIAMS TWP, MI — Michigan State Police troopers in the Great Lakes Bay area are newly outfitted with body-worn cameras.
The deployment of cameras for soldiers in the third district of the MSP was completed on Friday, May 27. The Third District has posts in Williams, Flint, West Branch, Caro and Lapeer Township in Bay County.
“We are halfway through the state of rolling out body cameras and there will be 1,700 statewide,” Lt. Kimberly Vetter said. “The Third District marks the halfway mark.”
With the Fifth and Sixth Districts already equipped, there are now about 850 body cameras deployed, Vetter said. Every soldier at the detective sergeant level and below is equipped with body cameras, including members of specialized teams like the fugitive team, the emergency support team, and multi-jurisdictional task forces like the Bay Area Narcotics Enforcement Team (or BAYANET) and Flint Area Narcotics. Group (or FANG).
“We are excited to be able to deploy these tools,” Vetter said. “We want to make sure that the public has confidence in us. Body-worn cameras are one more tool to ensure transparency and accountability. »
Axon body cameras have the ability to record and sync with the dashboard cameras of soldiers’ cars, Vetter said. When the dome lights of the patrol vehicles are activated, the body cameras also turn on automatically.
Soldiers will also be able to activate body cameras manually when away from their vehicles, the lieutenant added. Recorded footage will be uploaded to a cloud-based storage system, so soldiers won’t have to physically connect the body cameras to a manual upload device.
Soldiers will be able to download an app to their work phone that will allow them to replay footage immediately after recording is complete. They can then use this reading function to write their reports.
“It’s super convenient for them because they won’t have to go back to a desktop computer to replay the video,” Vetter said.
A recent incident in which body cameras would have been useful occurred in April 2021 when Third District troopers served a no-hit search warrant at a Flint home as part of a murder investigation. An hour later, the soldiers realized they had searched the wrong house, according to lawyers who filed a lawsuit against the MSP on behalf of the family residing in the house searched.
No footage of the raid exists because the soldiers who participated in it did not have body cameras, the lawyers said.
More recently, in Saginaw on March 28, a soldier allegedly punched a handcuffed civilian several times in the face during an arrest for drunk driving. Although the soldier did not have a body camera, bystanders recorded footage of the incident.
This soldier was suspended and an investigation was conducted by the Professional Standards Section of the MSP. The case is now before the Michigan Attorney General’s office for a decision on whether or not the soldier will face criminal charges.
The body cameras were funded by $3.8 million from the ongoing general fund allocation, with an additional $2 million from a Bureau of Justice Assistance Program grant.
All soldiers wearing body cameras have been trained in their correct use.
“This benefits both citizens and officers by providing better documentation of events involving interactions with the public,” Vetter said. “Our hope here is that we are able to capture more accurate representations of what is happening during interactions with audience members.”
The decision whether or not to charge the soldier who punched the Saginaw man in the face is up to the attorney general
MSP sued by Flint family after saying soldiers raided wrong house