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Michigan State Police seek $2M to livestream patrol dashcams

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan State Police want to invest more than $2 million dollars in technology to livestream dashboard cameras to assist in decision-making and risk management, the agency said.

The technology upgrade would allow supervisors to monitor pursuits and other incidents in real time, the agency said in its request for funding in Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s state budget. The proposal follows a black Detroit teenager’s death in 2017 after a white state trooper used a stun gun on him from a moving car, the Detroit Free Press reported.

State police didn’t specifically reference the teen’s death in the budget request.

They said the system would give supervisors the ability to “make decisions based on the real event, not on assumptions,” the request stated. The system is anticipated to be implemented in Detroit patrol cars first, according to documents obtained by the newspaper through an open records request.

Shanon Banner, a spokeswoman for Michigan State Police, declined to comment on whether patrol car livestreaming could have helped prevent the death of 15-year-old Damon Grimes.

“This question is purely speculative — cannot be answered,” Banner said.

Grimes was riding an all-terrain vehicle when state trooper Mark Bessner used a Taser on him from the passenger seat of a moving patrol car during a high-speed pursuit. Grimes then crashed the ATV and died.

Bessner argued that he feared the teenager had a gun, though Grimes was found to be unarmed.

Bessner, who resigned from the force after Grimes’ death, was charged with second-degree murder, but the case ended in a hung jury and mistrial last year. He’ll be retried on April 1.

Attorney Geoffrey Fieger, who is representing the Grimes family in a lawsuit against the state police, said he hopes the teen’s death was a factor in the request for livestreaming technology.

“It’s good they’re proposing to have this additional supervision,” but “you’ve got to have good people who are not going to subvert the system,” Fieger said.

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