Michigan State Police explains pursuit policy change in Detroit

- Michigan State Police have changed their policy on vehicle pursuits after a teen dies in an ATV accident.

Pursuits will only be done for only felonies and not misdemeanor civil infractions, while troopers have also suspended patrols in that precinct.

"I think a lot of people think we changed it because of this incident that is not necessarily the case," said Lt. Michael Shaw of the Michigan State Police.

Last month MSP Trooper Mark Bessner was suspended after he tasered a 15-year-old he was pursuing in Detroit. Damon Grimes crashed his ATV and died.

It may not be the only reason but Shaw says it is one of the cases Michigan State Police evaluated before deciding to make changes to their pursuit policy.

"I want to be clear just because there is not a blue car going behind you with lights and sirens on, doesn't mean we are not going to pursue you in other ways to get you," Shaw said. "We have to remind people that fleeing from a police officer is a felony."

But this is not the only change MSP has decided to make. Troopers will no longer be patrolling the 9th Precinct on Detroit's east side - the same area where Grimes was killed. It is a decision Detroit Police Chief James Craig says he supports.

"They are not less protected, I have every confidence in the work that is going on in the 9th Precinct and the men and women who are assigned (there)," Craig said. "Yes it is one of the busier precincts in the city."

For now DPD officers will pick up the slack in the 9th Precinct and Shaw says the 10 troopers will be re-deployed to the freeways.

Because of the high tension, he says the safety of the troopers was taken into account. We're told they will assist on the east side when needed.

"We haven't had any threats to our members or anything like that," Shaw said. "There is always a possibility nowadays with the anti-law enforcement rhetoric that things could happen to that effect."

"I would hope that the takeaway is this should not be an incident that defines how the state police do their job," Craig said. "They are a professional police agency we will continue to have a great working relationship."

The investigation into the Grimes death continues and is expected to be wrapped up in a couple weeks. At that point the Wayne County Prosecutor will determine if Bessner will be charged.

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