Whitmer Releases Four-Point Plan for Police Reforms

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer is proposing additional police reform policies she believes will strengthen police-community relations and ensure that all Michiganders are treated with dignity and respect under the law.

The four-pronged plan, developed in partnership with community leaders and law enforcement organizations, makes significant reforms in policy, personnel, participation and community engagement and prevention and accountability to address racial disparities in how law enforcement is applied toward communities of color.   

“All Michiganders, no matter their community or the color of their skin, deserve equal treatment under the law,” Whitmer said. “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.”

Lt. Gov. Garlin Cilchrist noted that people have “been calling for changes” to police practices.

“These actions are clear steps in the direction of needed reform,” Gilchrist said. “These reforms will help us build a more just and equitable law enforcement system and ensure the safety of Black Michiganders across the state. ”  

Over the last several weeks, the governor added four seats to The Michigan Commission on Law Enforcement Standards (MCOLES), including the Director of the Michigan Department of Civil Rights, to bring more community voices to the table as the commission considers police reforms for our state.

The governor also requested that MCOLES provide guidance to law enforcement agencies on continuing education that will help officers keep up with the ever-changing landscape of new laws and issues facing the community, including diversity and implicit bias training.   

Additionally, the governor has encouraged police departments to participate in efforts that are underway on comprehensive reporting on the use of force by police departments and urged law enforcement agencies to implement duty to intervene policies.  

Among the governor’s proposed reforms:

Policy
The Whitmer Administration supports legislation that makes the following reforms to law enforcement policies:  

  • Ban chokeholds/windpipe blockage.  
  • Further limit the use of no-knock warrants.  
  • Require “duty to intervene” policies.  
  • Classify false, racially motivated 911 calls as a hate crime.   
  • Require in-service training for all licensed law enforcement officers to maintain licensure.
  • Authorize MCOLES to do the following:  
  • Audit law enforcement agencies to ensure they are accurately reporting violations of law or improper use of force.  
  • Establish penalties for agencies who don’t comply with reporting.   
  • Direct the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Mental Health Diversion Council to make recommendations on best practices and training for police departments when responding to situations involving persons with mental illnesses.  

Personnel

  • Provide incentive programs for law enforcement agencies to hire/retain officers who live where they work.  
  • Require retention of disciplinary records resulting from violations of law or improper use of force.   

Partnership/Community Engagement

  • Invest in programming in communities around the state that connect local police and community leaders to build relationships.  
  • Invest in expanding existing community relationship programs to break down barriers between police and communities around the state.   

Prevention and accountability

  • Require independent investigations of all shootings and use of force that resulted in the death of unarmed civilians at the hands of law enforcement.  

“Law enforcement derives its authority from the public who entrusts us to protect and serve them, and I am fully committed to working with Governor Whitmer and her administration to increase accountability and improve transparency in order to build community support and trust,” said Col. Joe Gasper, Director of the Michigan State Police.

Sen. Marshall Bullock, chairman of the Michigan Legislative Black Caucus, said the caucus “stands with” Whitmer … “on this next step in addressing the issues of police brutality and accountability.

“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,” Bullock said.