In my second comment at the September 27, 2021 meeting I laid out a list of problems I had noticed with police protocol in a recent incident downtown:

"I appreciate the city's leadership team in making themselves and the LPD more accountable over the last few years to the people, even when I come here to rant and rave over one thing or another when the transparency fails or the accountability does not reach an acceptable level.  I recently ordered up body cam footage of an early morning arrest of a woman for the charge of domestic violence by three LPD officers on the sidewalk just a little over a block away.  She allegedly hit her much larger boyfriend in the back of the head, out of the sight of the officers, a contact that did not seem to phase him. 

Both subjects were separated, handcuffed, and questioned, without any resistance offered.  Though both were undergoing custodial interrogations, neither were read their Miranda rights.  Officers seized their property without consent given, both had their wallets looked through without consent, in what amounted to illegal searches.  They had no reasonable cause for those wallet searches, explicit or implicit.

In the middle of the incident, Officers Versluis and Gilmurray, two of the cops who battered Devon Wakelin into unconsciousness back in July, turned off their audio for the better part of a minute and conferred between themselves, presumably over what course they should take.  This is a violation of LPD policy, p. 429, where officers are not to cease recording during the middle of an incident without express permission of the shift supervisor.  Lastly, after interrogating both parties and learning there was no evidence that an actual assault had occurred, which is a necessary element for the crime of domestic violence, the woman was arrested, and is currently being prosecuted.

Our police officers need to follow the rules now that they are going to be on camera when they do their jobs, or else it will be all of us who pay for their errors."  [END Comment]

The Ludington Torch has promised the couple involved with the incident anonymity, at least until the case against the woman involved is dismissed or otherwise concluded.  A review of the body cam footage of that early morning this summer reveals the issues noticed in my comment to city leaders and the police chief at the council meeting.  The latest LPD Policy Manual was shared in a recent agenda packet and the text pictured in this article is all from that manual.

Below, we see the woman being handcuffed, shortly after being questioned and being somewhat reluctant to address something that neither of the couple thought merited police involvement.  Officer Gallihugh decided to detain her as she considered leaving, by getting his handcuffs out and placing them on her.

Officer Gallihugh:  "I tried asking you questions and you didn't want to talk, you walked away.  Okay, so we're going to get this figured out."  (handcuffs placed) "Ok, so why did you hit him in the back of the head?"  This was followed by many more questions about what happened that night, all without telling her of her right to remain silent, or of any indication that he would respect those rights.  Meanwhile, Officers Versluis and Gilmurray were quickly handcuffing the man who they would claim was done wrong.

Officer Gilmurray (after cuffs are placed on the 'victim' when it wasn't clear he wasn't guiltless):  "What's going on?  Followed by a dozen or so other questions about the couple's relationship and what happened that night to bring up her push and his push back.  He was placed in the back of the squad car after being interrogated, signifying further detainment.  He was cooperative throughout the encounter.

Chapter six of the LPD Policy Manual points out that interrogation on one in custody should only be done after Miranda rights are read to the interviewee and understood.  

Violating these rights could get any admissions made or other information gained through those unlawful interrogations get thrown out in court, and expose the City to liability, especially when you consider that they flaunted both of their Fourth Amendment rights, by searching through both of their wallets, when they were handcuffed, without express permission.  There was zero reason to believe that anything in either of their wallets had anything to do with the assault the officers believed to have happened.  The policy manual states:

Officer Versluis above is looking through the wallet of the male 'victim', while Officer Gilmurray is looking through her pocketbook.  Neither of the three officers asked their permission to do so, presuming they had the power to rifle through their wallets without restriction.  

Shortly after the wallet inspection above, Versluis and Gilmurray led the man into the back of one of their patrol cars, letting him know they were going to talk to each other.  They did; but before they did they did another bad thing according to page 429 of their manual:

Between 5:24 and 6:00 on Gilmurray's video, both he and Versluis intentionally turned their audio component off and talk to each other for 36 seconds without any reason or supervisor permission.  You see Versluis' cam go from flashing red to blue.  

After this private confab, not mentioned in the police report at all and definitely not approved by the shift supervisor, they make a decision to let the man go and arrest the woman.  This seems very odd, because the body cams saw not only her apparently making contact with the back of his head, but him turning around and pushing her away.  Neither appear to be malicious actions, but the only contact actually seen on either of the three body cam footages was his retaliatory one (you could only see his head move forward after her hand went behind it).

In their private conference, did they perhaps consider in their verdict to charge only her for a crime was that she was reluctant to talk and wanted to walk away, but he was fully compliant?  We may never know, because they violated one more policy to make sure their thought processes couldn't be used against them later. 

Their actions to move into a 'private chat', along with their other actions violating both of the couples' rights, shows that their overall goal that early morning wasn't for justice or legal integrity.  If their intent was to create a lawbreaker and save a victim, what they did was effectively create three lawbreakers and make two victims.

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Thanks again, X, for exposing lawless actions (allegedly, until proven in Court) by the Ludington Police Department and educating your readers with backup of LPD policy and law.

I can only pray that our new Chief Kozal corrects these Officers for not reading Miranda rights and turning off their audio mics. There should be a section in the LPD manual that there would be a review and firing (lose their jobs) if mics or cameras are turned off without permission, imo.

I only regret at this point that I can only show a flash of leg and not show the rest of the naughty bits because the couple involved don't want their friends, children and community seeing them handcuffed, detained and arrested before they at least have a chance to have their case dismissed, as it should be.

Once she is vindicated I hope to bring the three videos to you in the additional context that she was completely innocent of wrongdoing and that should have been obvious to all of the three stooges who tried to make a criminal out of her. 

Just curious. Were the officers on the recording coordinating with each other to go into silent mode? If not how did they signal each other to turn off their mic's?  These officers know better than to act this way. The Chief had better straighten out his crew before they get out of hand. If this minor incident required 3 officers then that tells me they really don't  have much to do. 

Officer Gilmurray put the man in the cruiser and told him that he had to confer with his partner to find out what they were going to do.  They go to the street corner, and even though they don't say anything, both officers have each other on camera when they click their cams off, it's fully coordinated.  The pic above is from Versluis' cam a second after his partner moved his hand over his bodycamwhere it shows Gilmurray's camera with a blue light rather than the red light it had on earlier.

I honestly think they would have chosen a much different tact and no arrests if there weren't three of them; I suspect each officer involved feels as if they have something to prove to their peers.  That's how gang members behave at least.

That's a very astute observation Willy. I have been saying for many years the LPD has way too many officers on patrol. The dept. employs about 35-40 officers in total to my understanding. For a population  like ours, about 8,000 ppl.. We never had anywhere near this many growing up here. Lucky if we had about 12 or so. Now then, why are 3 officers on this piddly domestic case to begin with? Should have not taken more than 1 officer to answer this call imho.

I failed to mention that the three officers were already at the location after responding to a totally different call that happened just around the corner of Filer on Harrison.  The officers heard the couple arguing as they walked east on Filer, and looked around the corner of the Saxton Design Building.

The three cops were in plain sight on the corner to this couple, that's why she and he were a bit surprised when two grabbed and almost immediately cuffed the man, while Gallihugh tried to talk with the woman, who couldn't believe why she and he were being detained.  I don't quite get it either; her contact, if any, was out of view of them and their cameras.  A good defense attorney could get her off easily by just asking questions about the contact, and why the man didn't seem phased at all by it, if that attorney didn't already have the illegal search and interrogation already deployed for a quick dismissal.  

X. Even if they officers were on a different call there were still 3 of them at one location. Were they all driving separate cars? I have to ask, what was the purpose of tax payers dishing out hard earned tax money for body cams and microphones if the police won't use them? As far as I'm concerned those officers just threw the police dept. under the bus along with it's integrity. How can the dept. be trusted now that we know the officers they employ can not be trusted to do the job they were hired to perform. Could anyone trust Ludington's police dept. to tell the truth about any matter since we now know they cheat the system by bypassing the one piece of equipment that is supposed to let the citizens know they are on the up and up and telling the truth about their encounters with citizens. Good job officers. Now we have to ask, why should you be trusted?

Aquaman, you bring up some good points. Just how many officers are needed for a town the size of Ludington? Is there a manual with directions for cities to follow regarding the size and make up of local police agencies? Does the size of the force depend on how much crime is committed or is it by population or a combination of both? Who says how many officers and staff are needed? The police chief, the Council, and independent auditor? If I'm not wrong, my understanding is that the Mason County Sheriff's office also handles calls inside the City limits.

Willy, again you make more astute observations. If there is any manual to follow for police dept. sizes, the ones they got here have been completely ignored, or just put in file 13. Both forces, LPD & MCSO, are both way over budgeted with double the officers they really need, silly, and taxpayer wasteful to the max.. And it just gets worse with every passing budget and year. And now, to add even more confusion and disregard to proper procedures, we find out officers are deciding for themselves when to use the mics. and bodycams according to what they want recorded, very sad, and inappropriate behavior that deserves reprimands.

A force of 35-40 would be an awful lot for the COL, but more than half of those are just based here and deal with issues throughout the county.  Ideal size of local police forces is generally an issue decided by city councils and county commissions, based on many factors, including their budget and their perspectives on crime and coverage.  

Studies generally show that when you add more officers you generally get a reduction of the more serious crimes, but you also see an increase in the minor crimes and arrests.  It's my contention that a municipality should continually gauge their police force and their output.  I'm seeing a lot of low-level and officer-created crimes in Ludington recently.  While I think training and experience accounts for some of this, it also indicates the force levels might be too large for optimal performance.


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