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Michigan court declines to examine police “photograph and print” policy

Flickr User Geoffrey Fairchild

A Michigan court isn’t getting involved in a controversial Grand Rapids police procedure. The Michigan Court of Appeals declined to decide if a fingerprint and photograph policy is constitutional.

The Grand Rapids police department says they only fingerprint and photograph people when they have a reasonable suspicion that a crime was committed and the person doesn’t have identification on them.  They argue that it’s not disproportionately used against one race or another.

But Miriam Aukerman of the ACLU of Michigan says the policy has damaged relationships between police and communities of color.

She says it does tend to be used more toward people of color.

“If the police really want to repair that relationship, they need to abandon these kind of aggressive practices.”

“The photograph and print procedure is an example of the type of aggressive police tactics that undermine trust and lead to a feeling of a community being policed rather than that they’re operating in partnership.”

She says this policy violates the Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable search and seizure.

“None of us believe that if walk out of the house in the morning, and forget your wallet and forget your purse that you should end up in a government database in the afternoon.”

Lawyers for the police department argued that the officer’s actions were not based on race and the stop was based on reasonable suspicion.