Inside208

Police Accountability + Reform Packages Pick Up in the Senate and House

Posted on June 14, 2021 by Dene Westbrook

Over the past few weeks, the Senate Judiciary and Public Safety Committee has taken testimony on Senate Bills 473484, which intend to expand accountability for members of law enforcement.

The 12-bill package is a bipartisan effort jointly championed by Sens. Roger Victory and Stephanie Chang, Chair and Minority Vice-Chair, respectively of the Committee. The package was introduced on the first anniversary of the murder of George Floyd and cover a broad spectrum area from banning “no-knock” warrants and chokehold, ongoing implicit bias, behavioral health and de-escalating training led by MCOLES, duty to intervene policies and reporting requirements for officer misconduct that would be kept by MCOLES.

While there are many bills in the package, the potential impact would likely not present major changes in law enforcement operations.  Many of the reforms proposed in the bills are already implemented across the state. However, this would establish statewide and consistent standards across agencies.

SB 473: Requires MCOLES to establish a policy for the investigation of officer-involved deaths to be distributed to all law enforcement agencies, and for all agencies and MCOLES to make those policies publicly available.

SB 474: Use of force violations would be required in records of officers’ separations from departments, and would be maintained by MCOLES.

SB 475: Allows for MCOLES to revoke a law enforcement officer’s license in the event the individual utilized excessive force that resulted in the death or serious bodily harm of another individual. Also prohibits the license from being reissued.

SB 476: Bans the intentional disclosure of a person’s identity who filed a misconduct complaint against an officer,

SB 477: A  police union would be exempt from representing a member who is facing disciplinary action if the union determined that the grievance does not hold merit.

SB 478: Bans the use of chokeholds except in cases where it may save a life.

SB 479: Bans “no-knock” warrants, except in certain circumstances, and updates the definition of “knock and enter” warrants.

SB 480: Establishes an affirmative duty to intervene in instances of excessive force by another officer. Those who fail to act would be subject to disciplinary action.

SB 481: Requires law enforcement agencies to develop a use of force policy that meets certain requirements.

SB 482: Implicit bias training, de-escalation training, and behavioral health training standards would be developed by MCOLES.

SB 483: Provides for MCOLES to undertake a study on the attraction and retention of law enforcement officers to discern the main obstacles to recruiting and retaining quality officers.

SB 484: Adds tampering with or shutting off police body cameras as a form of tampering with evidence.

In the House chamber, Democrats last week announced a similar package for introduction led by Rep. Tenisha Yancey. A press conference was held alongside the family of Breonna Taylor in Lansing last week to announce the upcoming package.  In addition, to the reforms included in the Senate package, House Democrats also anticipate including legislation to revoke qualified immunity from law enforcement officers when found to use unnecessary force and prohibit the use of volunteer law enforcement officers.

Herasanna Richards is a legislative associate handling energy, environmental, elections, and external municipal services for the League. She can be reached at hrichards@mml.org or 517-908-0309.

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