Michigan State Police

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

About 20 Michigan State Troopers are spending the next few days meeting with Flint schoolchildren.

Michigan State Police Colonel Kriste Kibbey Etue told a student assembly today at Bryant Elementary in Flint that she would like to see them waving at Michigan State Police patrol cars as they drive through their neighborhood.

“Because it really kind of hurts our feelings when our car goes by and no one waves at us,” Etue told the students.

One student blurted out “We be scared”, which drew laughter from the students.

But Etue says their fear is a problem.

Michigan State Police

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Criminal justice agencies across Michigan are getting $1.2 million in federal grants to strengthen anti-drug and crime-fighting efforts.

The funding was announced Tuesday by Gov. Rick Snyder and the Michigan State Police. The grants come from American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Program and are focused on technology enhancements.

Agencies receiving funding have until July 31 to spend the money. A list of awards is posted online.

michigan.gov/msp

This month Michigan State Police helicopters began what will be regular patrols of the Grand Rapids area.

Lieutenant Chris McIntire commands the Rockford Post. He says the patrols come in response to a spike in murders and other violent crime in the past few months.

“Not just in Grand Rapids but all of western Michigan, the State Police has found it's probably a benefit to bring some of those resources over here, help to curb some of that crime,” McIntire said.

via city of Romulus

This is not a great week for Romulus Mayor Alan Lambert.

State police are investigating him for public corruption and raided his home last month.

So far he's refusing to step down, even after the city council asked him to resign last night.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Ninety new Michigan State troopers will soon be on the road.

The troopers were officially sworn in today in Lansing.

Governor Rick Snyder told the new troopers they are part of reinventing Michigan, in part by helping those communities hit hard by violent crime.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

The American Civil Liberties Union is asking police departments in Michigan for information about their use of military-style weapons and tactics.

The ACLU sent public records requests this week to police departments in Detroit, Flint and Dearborn, as well as the Michigan State Police.   Similar requests were sent to cities in 22 other states.

Stateside: Dwindling budgets affect Michigan police departments

Jan 9, 2013
(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

As city budgets dwindle, Michigan’s police departments are making cuts to their programs.

“Every police department in the state is smaller today than it was ten years ago,” said Robert Stevenson.

Stevenson, who is Executive Director of Michigan Association of Chiefs of Police, said this is due to a combination of a reduction in revenue and reduced property tax values.

“When there is less money coming in, there has to be reductions and typically, public safety, police and fire take up more than 50% of a city’s total expenditures, therefore they’re hit the hardest.”

He saw few immediate solutions to the cuts.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

A new piece of equipment may soon help Michigan State Police catch online child predators.

Detective Sergeant Jay Poupard has spent years tracking online child predators for the Michigan State Police.

He says the way predators try to contact children online has been changing, from direct contact to harder to trace indirect methods, like file sharing.

“It hasn’t decreased. It’s just moved into another part of the virtual world,” says Poupard.

Two dozen Flint teenagers will be in Lansing this week learning leadership skills.

Seat belt
user Gerdbrendel / Wikimedia Commons

State police say an annual Michigan enforcement crackdown on motorists who fail to use seat belts and child safety seats led to 8,050 citations. That's down about 1,000 from 2011.

This year's Click It or Ticket campaign ran from May 21 to June 1.

State police say they have reports from law enforcement agencies in 26 counties. They say a preliminary count shows that officers stopped 14,761 vehicles during the crackdown.

The state has reported a slight drop in the rate of seat belt law compliance, from a record-high 97.9 percent in 2009 to 94.5 percent in 2011.

The enforcement effort led to a number of other citations, including 95 drunken driving arrests and 53 drug arrests. Thy also cited about 1,000 insurance violations and 535 suspended license violations.

user dori / wikimedia commons

Traffic deaths in Michigan fell by 5 percent last year, according to the Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning.

  • 937 people in Michigan were killed in 2010,
  • 889 in 2011.

Nationally, road deaths fell by almost 2-percent during 2011.

Communications manager for the Office of Highway Safety Planning Anne Readette said a decline in drunk driving and high seat belt use helped the situation.  

"Just a few years ago, Michigan had a 98 percent [seat] belt use rate... and we know that certainly has played a significant role in what we're seeing in traffic deaths," said Readette. 

Readett said her office focuses on communicating their latest safety messages to young men - the drivers most likely to drink and drive and to not wear seat belts.

Here are a few more notable items from the Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning's press release:

  • Cell phone-involved crashes decreased from 881 in 2010 to 821 in 2011. Cell phone-involved fatal crashes increased from four in 2010 to six in 2011. (Michigan cannot track crashes involving texting specifically.)
  • Commercial motor vehicle-involved fatalities fell 23 percent, from 95 in 2010 to 73 in 2011.
  • Motorcyclist fatalities dropped 13 percent, from 125 in 2010 to 109 in 2011.
  • Bicyclist fatalities were down 17 percent, from 29 in 2010 to 24 in 2011.
  • Pedestrian fatalities increased 6 percent, from 131 in 2010 to 140 in 2011.
  • The number of car-deer crashes declined 4 percent, from 55,867 in 2010 to 53,592 in 2011.
Civil asset forfeiture grants state and federal agents the ability to seize any property they think could be connected to criminal activity.
user GPDII / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

According to a new state law signed today, it's now illegal to lie or conceal facts from Michigan police officers who are investigating a crime.

The law says people do not give up their right to remain silent, but if they do talk, they have to tell the truth.

Sergeant Dwayne Gill is with the Michigan State Police.

“This law kind of mirrors the federal law on lying to federal agents. When we’re interviewing individuals, it’s a tool that law enforcement can use to elicit the truth in investigating crimes.” 

The American Civil Liberties Union says the law appears to be constitutional.

But a spokesperson says the ACLU is concerned about unintended consequences -- such as people not reporting crimes, or witnesses who refuse to cooperate with authorities because they’re afraid of being charged if they make a mistake.

Brian D. Hawkins / Creative Commons

You’ve probably seen people sitting or standing on highway exit ramps asking for money from drivers. Duane Zook, a community service trooper with the Michigan State Police, knows dozens of these panhandlers by first name and he’s decided to try to get them help.

As part of our weekly series, "Seeking Change," Michigan Radio's Christina Shockley spoke with Zook.

Civil asset forfeiture grants state and federal agents the ability to seize any property they think could be connected to criminal activity.
user GPDII / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

The Michigan State Police is opening an internal investigation into a traffic stop that has raised allegations of racial profiling.

The ACLU called on the Michigan State Police to look into the February traffic stop of an American citizen of Mexican descent.

During the traffic stop in Livonia, the ACLU claims the state trooper interrogated about the man about his immigration status, apparently not believing the man’s claims that he is a naturalized citizen.

The driver was handcuffed, threatened with deportation and federal immigration agents were called.

The man was eventually released after his claim of being a legal U.S. citizen was confirmed.

In a written statement, the head of the Michigan State police says the department “expects its members to perform their duties in a professional and impartial manner”, adding the department does not condone “bias profiling”.

Pelle Sten / Creative Commons

new state law that mandates inmates give DNA samples is helping police solve dozens of cold cases.

Since the mid 90s, all inmates have had to give DNA samples when they exit prisons and jails in Michigan. They could volunteer the DNA before they were released, but they didn’t have to.

“Obviously when someone refuses to give a sample, something’s up,” Michigan State Police Captain Greg Michaud said.

The FBI ranks Detroit, Flint, Pontiac and Saginaw among the ten American cities with the highest violent crime rates.

Kriste Etue is the Director of the Michigan State Police.  She says the lack of good jobs and the decline of police officers in the state has an impact on crime.

"The state of Michigan has lost nearly 3,400 police officers, so I’m sure that has some impact on the crime in our various cities."

The Michigan State Police is reaching out to returning veterans to join the state police force.

Michigan State Police say it will take millions of dollars to process thousands of rape kits found in an abandoned Detroit crime lab.

John Collins is State Police Director of Forensic Science. He says Michigan State University researchers are helping to identify the kits but the procedure takes time and money:

“What we hope to have eventually is some federal support to help us supply resources to test as many of these kits as possible, and to assist with the prosecutions that we think will come later on down the road,” said Collins.

Collins says about a thousand rape kits will be analyzed for DNA in the next year.  The results will be submitted to a national database to look for matches from other cases.

That leaves a backlog of another 10,000  kits .

The Detroit Police crime lab was shut down in 2008 after it was learned that firearms cases had been improperly handled.

MI State Police website

The Michigan State Police says more than 200 troopers have been trained to recognize autism and provide services.
    

The Mid-Michigan Autism Association has been working with state police to teach troopers how to communicate with autistic people as well as their families. The group says it's common for someone with autism to have contact with law enforcement, typically in situations that don't involve crimes.
    

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

The Michigan State Police says it is implementing a new ‘regional’ plan that will result in more troopers on the road.   The new ‘regional’ plan was announced in March.   The idea behind scaling back, from 62 state police posts to just 29, is to give the state police more flexibility. 

The changes will also mean more members of the command staff will be on the road supervising state troopers.   Lt. Colonel Gary Gorski says it’s a change that hopefully will be noticed. 

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

The Detroit suburb of Romulus is at the center of a massive police corruption scandal that includes the city’s ex-police chief.

Officials say in 2008, a “highly placed” Romulus police official asked Michigan State Police to investigate corruption allegations within the department.

(courtesy Barb Byrum's facebook page)

A state prisons spokesman says a potential kidnapping or murder-for-hire threat from an inmate targeting a Michigan state lawmaker has been detected and stopped.

Authorities said Friday that the case remains under investigation and no charges have been filed. They say the plot was being developed by a prisoner in a state correctional facility who has since been isolated from other prisoners. It wasn't immediately known why the prisoner was targeting the lawmaker.

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

 Many Michiganders will head to the beach or campgrounds to enjoy one last taste of summer during the Labor Day holiday weekend.   AAA predicts 1.2 million Michiganders will travel this weekend.  98 percent will be driving.   

Sergeant Jill Bennett is with the Michigan State Police.    She says police will be out in force this weekend. 

Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

State Police officials told a legislative committee that devices designed to pull data from cell phones are only used to investigate the most-serious crimes and are not part of routine traffic stops.

State Police officials say the data extraction devices are rarely used – and never without a search warrant or the consent of a phone’s owner.

State Police Inspector Greg Zarotney says the devices are used when certain crimes are committed:

"Typically, and I would say overwhelmingly, they are used in high-level crimes to investigate child exploitation, homicide cases, high-level drug cases, those types of situations where we’ve obtained the cell phone either through a search warrant or their consent, and we’re doing some type of data extraction to build our case,” sais Zarotney.

But State Police officials do not know how often the devices have been used.

Representative Tom McMillan chairs the House Oversight Committee, and he says the possibilities created by new technology also pose new challenges to privacy.

"As technology evolves, we may need to think about how to assure the public of a negative – what we’re not doing," said McMillan, "I don’t know what that’s going to look like, how possible it is, but I do think that we ought to broach that and start looking at that."

McMillan might hold future hearings on electronic privacy and protecting people against overly intrusive searches of phones and personal organizers.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan is worried state police may be extracting personal data from cell phones illegally; a concern state police say is unfounded.

The Michigan State Police came under criticism for attempting to charge the American Civil Liberties Union hundreds of thousands of dollars for access to records on how the devices are used.

Zarotney says that’s because authorities don’t keep specific records on the devices, and gathering the information would have required inspecting thousands of police reports.

photo by Vincent Duffy

The Michigan Freedom of Information Act is 34-years-old this month.  According to a ranking by the Better Government Association, it’s one of the stronger Freedom of Information laws in the United States. 

Detroit and Wayne County officials say they feel like Michigan State Police have “stabbed them in the back." That’s because State Police have backed off a plan to put a full-service crime lab in a former casino the city plans to turn into its new police headquarters. But the state later decided that wasn’t the best use of money. They say Detroit Police need more help handling and submitting evidence. John Collins.

Teenagers convicted of having an under-aged consensual sexual relationship will no longer risk being placed on the state’s sex offender registry.  Governor Rick Snyder has signed a law reforming Michigan’s sex offender registry.

People convicted of serious sex crimes will still be on the state’s Tier One registry and will have to report their whereabouts at least four times a year. But people convicted of less-serious crimes will not have to register. And many people convicted as teens will be able to ask a judge to remove them from the registry. 

Michigan State Police Sergeant Christopher Hawkins says:

“The sex offender registry was really designed to notify the public of dangerous offenders and sex predators who live in their neighborhoods. When you have offenders who are, say, a 17-year-old who had a consensual sexual contact or a consensual sexual act with their 15-year-old boyfriend or girlfriend – that’s not really a dangerous offender who the public needs to be aware of.”     

Michigan has one of the biggest sex offender registries in the country. About one out of every 200 people in Michigan is a registered sex offender.

There have been complaints since it was enacted in 1995 that the law is too harsh on some young offenders. But it took the threat of losing federal victim compensation funds to force a change in the law.

(Michigan State Police)

A Michigan state police trooper died early this morning when his cruiser rolled over during a chase in Saginaw County. The Associated Press reports Trooper Jeffrey Werda of the Bridgeport Post was on his way to help Saginaw County  sheriff's deputies chase a motorist early Wednesday when he apparently lost control and crashed.

Nikonmania / Flickr

As part of a plan to save nearly $21 million, the Michigan State Police announced yesterday that it plans to close 21 posts across the state. Closings include posts in Adrian, Bad Axe, Battle Creek, Bridgeport, Bridgman, Cheboygan, Corunna, Detroit, Gladwin, Groveland, Hastings, Iron River, Ithaca, L'Anse, Manistee, Munising, Newaygo, Richmond, Stephenson, Traverse City and Ypsilanti. The Associated Press reports:

The changes would take effect with the start of Michigan's next budget year in October. Troopers would be deployed throughout the state mostly from remaining posts and other buildings the state police would call detachments. Some troopers assigned to rural areas would be based from their homes. The state police say it's part of a regional policing plan.

From the Detroit News:

Gov. Rick Snyder announced his intention to close posts last month but gave few details. The severity of the plan shocked some: No troopers will be laid off, but come October, the number of posts will fall from 62 to 29, as 12 posts will be downgraded to detachments that are closed to the public but open to troopers for administrative work.

The move is one of the biggest changes in years to a system of policing that has remained virtually unchanged for seven decades. And it's got some worried if troopers can adequately cover larger areas...The plan is designed to save about $3.2 million to help the department offset a $20.7 million shortfall to its $521.5 million budget. Michigan State Police Director Kriste Kibbey Etue said in a statement that troopers will continue to patrol roads and assist communities at the same level they have in the past.

Update: March 16th, 11:18 a.m.

Michigan State police officials have not provided details on why they searched  buildings associated with the Romulus Police Department. State Police Inspector Garth Burnside told the Detroit News that the search warrants were part of an ongoing investigation with the Wayne County prosecutor and the FBI.

The Detroit News reports that the following locations were searched:

  • the Romulus police headquarters
  • the home of Romulus Police Chief Michael St. Andre
  • St. Andre's wife's tanning salon
  • a building housing Police Department records
  • and a residence Burnside declined to identify.

The Detroit News spoke with a lawyer who sued the Police Chief and the City  of Romulus "over the disappearance of $300,000 worth of auto parts seized by Romulus police." The lawyer's client said the auto parts were in a trailer seized by police. According to the News, the Romulus police contended there were no auto parts in the trailer and the case was dismissed in January 2010.
 

March 15th, 11:36 a.m.

The Michigan State Police are saying little about a search warrant served today at the Romulus Police Department.  State Police Inspector Garth Burnside would only confirm that state troopers, along with FBI agents and the Wayne County Prosecutors Office served the warrant at 7 a.m. this morning.

Burnside says the search of the Romulus Police Department is part of an ongoing investigation.

He declined to say what is the focus of the investigation.

The Michigan State Police have asked the Wayne County Prosecutors office to issue an arrest warrant in the Aiyana Jones case. A Detroit Police officer killed seven-year-old Aiyana Jones last May, as a police team raided her family’s home looking for a murder suspect. It’s unclear whether the warrant involves that officer, or what the charge would be.

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