Legislation intended to expand accountability for members of law enforcement was introduced today in the Senate through a bipartisan package its sponsors called necessary to protect the public and improve procedures that officers follow.
The 12-bill package is scheduled to be formally introduced during session on the one-year anniversary of the death of George Floyd, a Black man in Minnesota who was killed by a police officer, who placed his knee on Mr. Floyd’s neck and caused him to stop breathing. His death sparked protests across the country including in multiple Michigan cities.
In April, the officer, who was filmed with his knee on Mr. Floyd’s neck, was convicted of murder.
One proposed change in the package is a requirement for the Michigan Commission on Law Enforcement Standards to craft guidelines for conducting independent investigations of deaths caused by officers in the line of duty. The bill would also require law enforcement agencies to develop a publicly available policy for the guidelines.
Another bill would require law enforcement departments to have a use of force policy that requires exhausting all options available to officers such as warnings prior to use of deadly force.
Other proposals include allowing MCOLES to revoke the license of an officer who uses excessive force causing serious injury or death, banning the use of chokeholds except in cases where it may save a life, banning the intentional disclosure of a person’s identity who filed a misconduct complaint against an officer, and adding tampering with or shutting off police body cameras as a form of tampering with evidence.
Sen. Stephanie Chang said in a statement that increased transparency and accountability is needed following high-profile deaths of people of color such as Mr. Floyd by officers.
“Change in our justice system is overdue, and this bipartisan package is the result of months of work to develop practical solutions to improve policing and public safety in our communities,” Ms. Chang said.
Sen. Roger Victory said the proposals would enact best practices and improve overall police efforts.
“I believe we all have the shared goals of improving policing, community interactions and public perceptions while supporting the many courageous police officers who keep our families safe,” Mr. Victory said.
The bills were to be referred to the Senate Judiciary and Public Safety Committee, which Mr. Victory chairs
In the House, Republicans recently announced increased funding for police support, including for training and retention. The proposal did not include training requirements, like the legislation that passed unanimously from both chambers last year to require de-escalation and implicit bias training.
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