Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Gov. Whitmer announces support for police reform plans amid protests

June 5, 2020
<p>Protesters take a knee outside of the East Lansing Police Department at the “We’re next!” protest against police brutality in East Lansing on June 2, 2020. The protest was peaceful and speakers talked about the current state of the nation as well as removing East Lansing Police Officer Andrew Stephenson from his position.</p>

Protesters take a knee outside of the East Lansing Police Department at the “We’re next!” protest against police brutality in East Lansing on June 2, 2020. The protest was peaceful and speakers talked about the current state of the nation as well as removing East Lansing Police Officer Andrew Stephenson from his position.

Photo by Annie Barker | The State News

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has announced her support for policy initiatives geared toward police reform in the state.

The governor’s support for police reform follows the deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor, in addition to the protests against police brutality across the state and nation. 

“The death of George Floyd has once again shone a light on the systematic cycle of injustice in our country,” Whitmer said. “To the overwhelming majority who have taken to the streets and protested peacefully, protesting historic inequities black Michiganders and those across the country are facing, I hear you. I see you. I respect you, and I support your efforts to enact real, structural change in America.”

According to a statement, Whitmer requested the Michigan Commission of Law Enforcement Standards, or MCOLES, provide information to law enforcement agencies on continuing education to keep officers up-to-date with new laws and issues facing their community, including diversity and implicit bias training.

The governor also called for police departments to participate in initiatives regarding comprehensive reporting on the use of force by police departments and urged law enforcement agencies to implement “duty to intervene” policies, according to the statement. 

Members of law enforcement agencies across the state also supported the policies. 

“The role and responsibility of police officers in our society is a great one; one in which our authority is derived from the trust and support of the people we serve,” Director of the Michigan State Police Col. Joe Gasper said in the statement. “Our members take an oath to protect and serve all people, and in this time, we cannot stand on the outside looking in. We must listen and take action, reviewing our policies and practices to work together to pave a path forward where everyone has a voice and all are treated equally as human beings.”

Earlier this week, Whitmer also called on the state legislature to act on Senate Bill 945, sponsored by Sen. Jeff Irwin, D-Ann Arbor. 

Irwin’s bill, which would require new law enforcement officers to receive training on implicit bias, de-escalation techniques and mental health screenings, passed the state Senate on Thursday and is currently awaiting approval by the House of Representatives. 

“The passage of Senate Bill 945 is a positive and necessary step towards addressing the inequities Black Michiganders face daily,” the governor stated in a tweet.

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