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Police oversight group in Ann Arbor urges city to scale back uniformed officers at art fair

Posted at 8:51 PM, Jun 11, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-11 20:51:16-04

ANN ARBOR, Mich. (WXYZ)  — "We're really focusing on whether or not it's being overpoliced," said Frances Todoro-Hargreaves, Director of The State Street District who also sits on Ann Arbor's Independent Community Police Oversight Commission.

Todoro-Hargreaves urged city council members to consider not having uniformed police officers assigned to the Ann Arbor State Street Art Fair, which she also organizes.

The State Street Fair is one of three non-profit fairs that make up the Ann Arbor Art Fair which is set for July 15 - 17.

"Nobody is looking to make the fair unsafe," said Todoro-Hargreaves. "We just want to ease into this and learn little by little to see what improvements we can make. And, you know, maybe the improvements are made without lowering the number of armed officers, but we just want to see how we can do that."

There would still be private, unarmed security guards assigned to the State Street Art Fair. And Dr. Lisa Jackson, Chair of the police oversight commission, points out that Ann Arbor Police would still respond to 911 calls.

"There have been times when people have felt overpoliced," Dr. Jackson said. "They felt the police presence was too much. We don't have a lot of data to show that there has been crime that would require armed police, maybe that exists, but so far we haven't seen anything like that.

Jackson said they want merchants to feel safe but that overpolicing is a concern in Ann Arbor.

But Karen Delhey, organizer of one of the other three fairs, The Summer Art Fair, said she doesn't see a need for a change in how the international event is policed.

"I think they give us the proper coverage that we need. I trust that they're going to take good care of us," said Delhey. "We were very clear with them that that's where we're coming from, and we would like things to stay that way."

So far, no change has been made on the policing of the 2021 Ann Arbor Art Fair as the conversations continue.