EAST LANSING, Mich. — East Lansing's City Council appointed the first members of its independent police oversight commission Tuesday night.
“This is the first seating of a very important commission that has been a very long time in the making," said East Lansing Mayor Jessy Gregg.
Some of the 11 members are residents in the city. Some come from surrounding communities. Some have a background in law enforcement. Two also served on the study committee for the police commission which suggested the city establish the committee.
“This was a very, very good group of local citizens, participants," said Councilmember Ron Bacon. "This was a very difficult process.”
Shawn Farzam is an East Lansing native who doesn't have a background in law enforcement, but wanted to apply anyway.
“Like most people, I’ve had interactions with the police in the past some positive, some negative and I just feel that with everything going on in society and the focus around policing in general, I thought it was important to bring my perspective to the commission,” Farzam said.
Farzam was one of 37 applicants interviewed by Gregg, Bacon, Human Resources Director Shelli Neumann and Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Administrator Elaine Hardy.
“It was all virtual," Farzam said. "A couple different phone calls and then a Zoom interview, met with the new mayor, the HR director, a couple other people on the board.”
“I’m feeling great," he added. "I’m very excited to get to work.”
Farzam said he's coming into this position with an open mind.
“With having a university on campus, lots of ethnic backgrounds, lots of diversity, we want to make sure that the police are interacting with all types of backgrounds in the correct way, but, at the same time, we want to make sure they have all the resources that they need to do their job to keep us safe,” Farzam said.
At the meeting, Bacon said he's looking forward to working with the group.
“We’re kind of trusting this inaugural group to bring the future and the direction of the police oversight commission for East Lansing and it’s a really good group and I’m excited to work and support them,” Bacon said.
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