July, 2020: Lansing Police Department Responds to Community Policing Concerns, Embraces Police Reforms

The Lansing Police Department (LPD) has established new guidelines for traffic stops and search-warrant execution in response to community concerns regarding the disparate impact of certain police policies on certain community members. The new traffic-stop guidelines also prohibit the “indiscriminate” use of LIEN checks.

No Traffic Stops for Minor Infractions

Under new guidelines implemented at the beginning of July, the LPD will no longer be pulling over drivers for minor infractions that do not pose a risk to public safety. In a July 1, 2020 internal memorandum announcing the new policy, the LPD now divides traffic stops into two categories: primary and secondary. fn. 1  Primary violations are those that pose a threat to public safety and include “failure to wear seat belt/child restraints, inoperable headlight/s after dusk hours, no brake lights, expired license plate, speeding, careless and reckless driving, violation of traffic control devices, impaired driving and other unsafe and dangerous driving situations.” Secondary violations are regulatory infractions and include “violations such as, cracked windshields, loud exhaust, inoperable license plate lamp, cracked taillights, dangling ornaments, and window treatments.”

Under the new guidelines, the LPD will no longer initiate traffic stops for secondary violations. Defective equipment violations are considered secondary violations unless the defective equipment poses a danger to public safety. According to the guidelines, a traffic stop for defective equipment is a “narrow exception” for “those rare cases” where a violation is so severe that it poses a safety threat to the driver or community members, but an officer who makes such a stop must report it to their supervisor to ensure that the stop was consistent with the guidelines. 

The traffic-stop memorandum states that the new guidelines will be reviewed by the Chief of Police and the Police Board of Commissioners after 60 days. During the 60-day study period, “the indiscriminate checking of license plates through the use of LEIN is prohibited without an articulable and non-bias public safety reason.”

The memorandum states the philosophy behind the changes: 

Recent research tends to demonstrate that routine traffic stops, and general traffic enforcement can result in disparate outcomes for some members of our community. The Lansing Police Department (LPD) which uses a constitutional policing model, actively works to eliminate bias, implicit or otherwise, in the execution of legitimate and lawful traffic safety management activity that has a goal of improving the safety and quality of life for everyone.

The memorandum notes that the new traffic stop guidelines are “consistent with our overall constitutional policing model that is focused on protecting the individual constitutional rights of our citizens while eliminating any aspect, inferred or otherwise, of bias-based traffic policing practices.” It further states that “[p]olicing methodology, other than using the constitutional policing model, could damage police legitimacy and improperly disrupt the lives of those that live, visit and work in the City of Lansing.”

No No-Knock Warrant Execution

On July 15, 2020, the LPD issued a revised search-warrant execution policy to “clarify its restrictive stance” on court-authorized “no-knock” warrants that authorize officers to enter certain premises without announcing their presence or purpose before entering the premises. fn. 2  Under the revised policy, the LPD prohibits no-knock execution of search warrants: 

No-Knock search warrants are prohibited at LPD. Officers are required to announce their identity and purpose. Additionally, the LPD will not assist or participate in a search warrant execution with another law enforcement agency, whether state or federal, that is holding and/or desiring to execute a no-knock search warrant.

The letter announcing the policy change informs that the “policy change is the result of a systematic review to make sure that the practices and policies of the LPD are consistent with current nationwide police best practice strategies, applicable law and also in conformance with the LPD constitutional and holistic policing model.” The letter further states, “The LPD desires to lead the law enforcement profession in its constitutional policing methodology and the following policy change is meant to create a greater level of overall safety to an already dangerous police activity.”

The letter includes a statement from Lansing Mayor Andy Schor: “As the Lansing Police Department systematically reviews policies, prohibiting ‘No Knock’ searches is another very important step to take to ensure the rights of residents.”

The letter also includes a statement from Lansing Chief of Police Daryl Green: “The members of the LPD are law enforcement leaders, no matter what their assignment, and should conduct themselves with a level of professionalism of which the community can be proud and this policy clarification is just another example of our efforts to embrace police reform.”

Going Forward – Use of Force

On July 22, 2020, the LPD Advisory Committee held an online Community Meeting on Use of Force (Response to Resistance) Policy. fn. 3   The purpose of the meeting was “to allow members of the community to speak to members of the Board of Police Commissioners” and others about the LPD’s use-of-force policy. Another meeting is scheduled for August 19, 2020.

Speaking to the development and establishment of responsive police policies, Lansing City Council member Brian T. Jackson said, “There is still a lot of work to be done in police reform; I think this is a step in the right direction.” fn. 4

by John Zevalking
Associate Editor


1.  New LPD Traffic Stop Guidelines: file:///C:/Users/Win10User/Documents/SADO/CDN/Lansing%20PD%20article/New%20Traffic%20Stop%20Guidelines%20.pdf
2.  New Warrant Execution Policy: https://www.lansingmi.gov/DocumentCenter/View/10350/7-15-20-Policy-Update
3.  https://www.lansingmi.gov/DocumentCenter/View/10348/Use-of-Force-Policy-Meeting-7-22 
4.  Anderson-Torrez, New guidelines: Lansing Police Won’t Stop Drivers for solely for minor violations, Lansing State Journal (July 1, 2020): https://www.lansingstatejournal.com/story/news/local/2020/07/01/new-guidelines-lansing-police-wont-stop-drivers-solely-minor-violations/5357206002/