Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Michigan Senate passes bill to set new law enforcement training standards

June 4, 2020
<p>Protesters lay on the ground at a protest around downtown Lansing on June 3, 2020.</p>

Protesters lay on the ground at a protest around downtown Lansing on June 3, 2020.

The Michigan Senate unanimously passed Senate Bill 945, which would require new standards to be set for training in de-escalation techniques, implicit bias and mental health screening for law enforcement, according to a press release from the Michigan Senate.

This bill seeks to create a law enforcement officers training fund that would be disbursed to local government agencies, according to the bill. The bill would also create a commission on law enforcement standards.

The bill would require individuals seeking to become a licensed law enforcement officer to complete this training beginning Jan. 1, 2022.

Additionally, the commission to create these standards would be required to establish minimum rule standards for law enforcement training in de-escalation techniques, implicit bias training, mental health resources and support available for law enforcement officers and procedural justice training.

In terms of minimum standards for de-escalation techniques, the commission must define alternative non-lethal use of force methods, verbal and physical tactics to avoid the need for the use of force and the use of force at the lowest level possible for a safe response, among others.

The bill states the commission will be required to define these standards no later than Sept. 1, 2021.

Local law enforcement agencies will also be required to adopt new policies for these standards.

"Not later January 1, 2022, each law enforcement agency in this state shall adopt a written policy stating that each of the law enforcement officers in its employ has an affirmative duty to utilize de-escalation techniques in his or her interactions with citizens whenever possible," according to the bill.

In a statement regarding the bill, Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich said dismantling systemic racism will not be a quick fix.

"The horrifying pattern of police brutality against Black and Brown people must end. Period," Ananich said.

Ananich also added meaningful change will require more legislation, compassion for our neighbors, difficult conversations and many more listening ears.

This bill comes after multiple protests in the Greater Lansing area, across the country and around the world have demanded police reform after the death of George Floyd.

The bill, sponsored by Sen. Jeff Irwin, is waiting for approval through the Michigan House of Representatives.

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