Flint Police Chief Phil Hart confirmed today that a device found at City Hall is not capable of recording video or audio and is not sophisticated enough to warrant sending to state police or the FBI for further investigation.
East Village Magazine (EVM) learned of the device when Flint Mayor Sheldon Neeley appeared on a Nov. 16 WFLT 1420-AM 10 a.m. radio show, where he stated that “in having the office swept, there was one electronic surveillance device left in the office.”
Neeley defeated incumbent Mayor Karen Weaver Nov. 5 by 205 votes and was sworn in Nov. 11.
Context of Neeley’s radio remarks involved Weaver
Neely mentioned the device when describing an investigation into the outgoing Mayor Karen Weaver’s administration. Neeley said the investigation results “may rise to a criminal nature” including an audit into City finances, alleged documents that were shredded by Weaver’s administration, and the device.
In an initial phone interview, Hart said that the department would have to work with an outside agency to investigate the device but could not confirm what agency that would be. Hart then called EVM again to clarify that the department has concluded the device was not sophisticated enough to send to outside investigators.
Hart said that a photograph of the device would be made available to the public once the investigation is complete.
New administration’s communications protocols off to confusing start
Hart’s comments helped clear up confusion about whether the device did or didn’t exist and who was communicating about it officially. Communications Director Marjory Raymer initially texted an image of a press release to EVM Tuesday that stated “one electronic surveillance device was found in an administrative office located within the Mayor’s Office on the first floor of Flint City Hall.” She later said what she provided was not a press release, and it contained no contact information for follow up.
EVM went to the Flint Police Department headquarters to try to track down the press release, but it was not in the binder of press releases usually compiled for media by detectives in the Flint Police Department. The person working the front desk then called Detective Tyrone Booth who said the press release was available through the communications director, Marjory Raymer, at City Hall, leading to more confusion about who was coordinating queries about the alleged device and how to get details about it.
In a phone interview, however, Hart confirmed the press release was written by someone in his department, but could not confirm who created the document. Hart explained he was newly appointed and did not know what is the department’s protocol for issuing press releases, but that the one given to EVM was not sent out and was only being handed to people on a select basis.
EVM Contributing Writer Melodee Mabbitt can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.