Above: East Lansing’s outgoing Police Chief, Jeff Murphy
The City Council and East Lansing Police Chief Jeff Murphy discussed at Council’s May 16 meeting the ELPD policies that flow from the Welcoming City resolution that the Council unanimously adopted in February.
The discussion was occasioned by a meeting of six community members with Chief Murphy on April 13 about nine “model” state and local law enforcement policies and rules concerning immigrants and cooperation with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) developed by the ACLU. These nine model policies were part of the Council’s agenda on May 16.
The April meeting with Chief Murphy was requested by residents who participated in local launch parties of the ACLU People Power “Freedom Cities” campaign on March 11. Two people who met with Chief Murphy spoke at the Council meeting, both praising his stance on the issue.
Glencairn resident Jo McGlew, who participates in Indivisible of Lansing as well as ACLU People Power, said Chief Murphy told the group that most of these policies and practices are already in place in East Lansing. McGlew said she looked forward to the codification of these policies and suggested that a written policy would be a good legacy for Chief Murphy to leave the City. (Murphy is retiring on June 2.)
Derrell Slaughter, Chair of the Racial Justice Committee of the Greater Lansing Chapter of the ACLU, also urged the ELPD to adopt the ACLU model policies and asked Council to consider “how this could send a signal to folks who are really scared out there.”
Murphy assured the Council that the ELPD does not treat immigrants differently than it treats any other people. He also said that, since ELPD is not a federal agency, it has no reason to investigate immigration laws. “We don’t know them; we aren’t trained on them,” he said. “It is not something a municipal police department does.”
The only way ELPD treats people differently is on the basis of their citizenship, not their immigration status, the Chief said. When individuals are arrested, the police officer asks their citizenship so ELPD can notify the closest consulate representing the person’s country of citizenship. This is required by treaties the U.S. has with many foreign countries so that citizens of both countries can receive assistance from their government officials if they are arrested in a foreign country.
When Mayor Mark Meadows asked Chief Murphy if he would object to posting the ACLU nine policies on the ELPD website as policies of the department, Murphy said that these policies already are in various existing policy documents posted online. He told Council that the resolution they adopted in February was very helpful to the police. The resolution “is our marching orders,” Murphy told the Council.
Councilmember Erik Altmann asked if Chief Murphy could cross-reference ELPD policies with the relevant ACLU model policies. Altmann suggested that the Chief send a memo to Council with links to the existing ELPD policy related to each of the ACLU nine principles, which could be made available to the public.
Murphy said he already had a pretty good diagram of related policies and this could be done, adding that this would give more guidance to ELPD offices about what is expected of them. Councilmember Shanna Draheim said this would be helpful to members of the community, as well, with which Meadows and Altmann agreed.
Disclosure: The author was a member of the delegation that met with Chief Murphy.