Michigan data on the use of force by law enforcement in Michigan will be published annually by the state as part of a new transparency initiative announced Wednesday (6/17), according to a report by Gongwer.

Legislators and law enforcement officials announced the Law Enforcement Transparency Collaborative, which is intended to help increase transparency and accountability for members of law enforcement.

The Department of State Police will release the annual report, which will contain all data provided by Michigan law enforcement provided to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

State Sen. Stephanie Chang (D-Detroit) told reporters during a news conference the move is one that can help begin to repair the relationship and level of trust between law enforcement and communities, particularly people of color.

“People in our communities are looking to us for change, and we believe that today’s announcement is an important positive step forward for transparency, which is needed in order to build more trust between the public and our law enforcement officers,” Chang said.

State Rep. Jason Wentworth (R-Clare) agreed, saying the release of the data will let the public see the overall picture of law enforcement’s use of force, adding “this is a statewide issue” that requires steps be taken by all stakeholders to restore trust.

The FBI began gathering data on the use of force by law enforcement in 2019 following requests by police departments to begin collecting the data. Participation in the program to provide data is voluntary. FBI data collects information on three types of law enforcement encounters including use of force.

The first is when someone is killed that is connected with the use of force by an officer. The second is when there is a serious injury to a person connected to use of force by an officer and the final is when an officer fires their weapon at or in an individual’s direction during an encounter.

Prior to the FBI beginning to collect the data there was no national database. Instead, news outlets, including the Washington Post, in recent years had begun creating databases and maintaining them as best they could.

Department of State Police Director Joe Gasper said the release of the 2019 Michigan data on June 4 is the first step for the department in providing the data, which will appear online with other annual reports.

“It’s important to acknowledge that true reform requires careful consideration from all parties involved,” Mr. Gasper said, noting that transparency is a first step and further advances will take time.

In the 2019 report there were 36 reports of law enforcement encounters with members of the public involving the use of force. Between these encounters there were 39 individual members of the public involved and a total of 54 members of law enforcement.

Of those incidents, 21 of the individual members of the public were white men, 16 were black men, one was a white woman and one was a Hispanic man. The report cited 17 incidents that resulted in injuries, 13 incidents involving a death and eight that only went as far as the firing of an officer’s weapon.

Lt. Governor Garlin Gilchrist II said the calls for law enforcement reform “are calls that have been happening for a very long time” not just in the last few weeks after the death of George Floyd.

“With today’s announcement we’ll take yet another step towards a more transparent, accountable and responsive system,” he said. “We have an opportunity to reimagine the fundamental relationship of trust between communities of color and law enforcement.”

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