Monday, July 6, 2020

Gov. Whitmer announces proposals for police reform

June 29, 2020
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer during her second State of the State address at the Michigan State Capitol in Lansing on January 29, 2020.
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer during her second State of the State address at the Michigan State Capitol in Lansing on January 29, 2020. —
Photo by Connor Desilets | The State News

Following the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and numerous other unarmed, Black individuals at the hands of law enforcement, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced several proposals for police reform Monday.

The support for reform comes after the governor voiced her support for continued education and diversity and implicit bias training for police officers, in addition to more comprehensive reporting on the use of force by police departments earlier this month. 

“All Michiganders, no matter their community or the color of their skin, deserve equal treatment under the law,” Whitmer said in a statement. “This proposal will help us ensure that law enforcement officials treat all Michiganders with humanity and respect, and will help us keep our communities safe. I will continue working with leaders in law enforcement to make public safety more just and equitable in Michigan.”  

The proposal lays out various forms of legislation, including banning chokeholds and windpipe blockage, limiting the use of no-knock warrants, requiring “duty to intervene” policies, classifying false or racially-motivated 911 calls as hate crimes and requiring in-service training for all law enforcement officers to maintain licensure. 

Additionally, Whitmer supports the authorization of the Michigan Commission on Law Enforcement Standards, or MCOLES, to audit law enforcement agencies to ensure they are accurately reporting law violations or improper uses of force and to establish penalties for agencies who do not comply with reporting procedures. 

The governor also supports legislation that would require independent investigations of all incidents that result in the deaths of unarmed civilians at the hands of law enforcement to improve transparency and accountability. 

According to the proposal, the Whitmer administration will work closely with law enforcement leaders to provide incentives for law enforcement agencies to hire and retain officers who live where they work and require retention of disciplinary records from violations of law or improper use of force. 

Regarding community engagement, the governor said she intends to promote programming in communities that connects police and community leaders to strengthen relationships and break down barriers between police and the communities they serve. 

Lt. Mark Young, president of the Detroit Police Lieutenants and Sergeants Association and vice president of the National Association of Police Organizations, expressed support for the new reform proposals.

"These proposed reforms will continue to put Michigan ahead of the nation in setting standards for professional police conduct that leads to trust between police officers and the communities they serve,” Young said in the statement. “Good police officers accept accountability as they risk their lives every day to protect Michigan's citizens."

Sen. Marshall Bullock, D-Detroit, chairman of the Michigan Legislative Black Caucus, or MLBC, also expressed support for the governor’s proposal. 

“The MLBC stands with Gov. Whitmer, Lt. Gov. Gilchrist and the administration on this next step in addressing the issues of police brutality and accountability,” Bullock said in the release. “As members of the Senate and House we continue to work on bicameral legislation to place these and other reforms into statute and look forward to continued collaboration with her, the community and the departments.”

East Lansing Police Department Interim Chief Steve Gonzalez and Capt. Chad Connelly were unavailable for comment at the time of publication.

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