Michigan Senate passes training bill aimed at reducing police brutality

The Michigan Senate on Thursday approved a bill to require more police training. Legislatures unanimously approved the reform, which police agencies said is unnecessary because such training already is required.

The Michigan Senate unanimously passed legislation that would mandate anti-bias training, de-escalation training and ongoing mental health services for police officers Thursday, as nationwide protests against police brutality continue nationwide.

“This is only one step towards the greater justice and freedom that our residents are calling for,” said bill sponsor Sen. Jeff Irwin, D-Ann Arbor on the Senate floor shortly before the vote. 

“There’s work to do in every corner of this nation to fight for this greater justice and to drive progress to end police brutality. There’s work to be done at kitchen tables and city councils and police stations and training programs. But there is also work that we need to be doing here in the state Legislature.”

The bill now goes to the House. If passed, it would go to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, who urged the Legislature to support it on Wednesday. 

The bill would require beginning in 2022: 

  • All licensed police officers undergo training in de-escalation, implicit bias and procedural justice 
  • Law enforcement agencies make mental health resources and support available for officers 
  • Officers receive training in identifying and de-escalating encounters with people with mental health and substance abuse issues
  • Officers complete at least 12 hours of “continuing education” within the year, and complete at least 24 hours of continuing education every year afterward.

De-escalation training would include teaching techniques for minimizing the use of force with an emphasis on communication, negotiation and “providing the time needed to resolve the incident safely.” Implicit bias training would involve learning about unconscious biases and “improving response strategies” to those biases.

The proposal faced opposition from the Michigan Sheriffs’ Association and the Michigan Association of Chiefs of Police in a Senate committee Thursday morning, arguing training standards should be designed by law enforcement personnel and that most of the training outlined in the legislation is already in place. 

The bill does not allocate money for training in Michigan’s nearly 600 police forces and 17,000 officers.

Sen. Peter Lucido, R-Shelby Township, who chairs the Senate Judiciary and Public Safety Committee — which also approved the bill unanimously that morning — said he was “surprised [similar legislation] hasn’t been taken up over the last 20 years.”

Sen. Stephanie Chang, D-Detroit, one of the bill co-sponsors, said Thursday it’s a pivotal moment in the nation’s history and that the training could prevent potentially fatal outcomes in the future. 

Police have killed 78 people in Michigan since 2015. More than half were people of color and one-third were people with a mental illnesses. 

The bill was passed in the wake of widespread protests decrying police brutality after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis in late May. Floyd, an African American man, was killed by a white former police officer who knelt on his neck for more than eight minutes. 

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Be nice
Thu, 06/04/2020 - 3:39pm

Great start. Now let's ban chokeholds.

John Willis
Fri, 06/05/2020 - 9:14am

How about stop “resisting” and then no one gets hurt or worse??

All Equal
Thu, 06/04/2020 - 3:40pm

Get rid of government immunity.

Fri, 06/05/2020 - 8:36am

If this is the watered down crap their appeasing us with at the very least funds need to be allocated to local civil and equitable rights groups to design and hire people for these programs. FUND COMMUNITIES! Making these trainings mandatory without allocating money into the hands of people who have been doing this work for years is the same kind of flaccid white supremacy minded nonsense that has perpetuated racial injustice.

Fri, 06/05/2020 - 8:45am

The article states that police have killed 78 people in Michigan since 2015. I wonder how many of the 78 were unarmed people of color.

Will Ellis
Fri, 06/05/2020 - 9:04am

Thank you Senator Irwin and all of the Michigan Senators that have supported this important legislation. Lots of work to do, and this is a good step forward.

George L Hebben
Fri, 06/05/2020 - 9:11am

He wasn't a "former police officer" when he knelt on George Floyd's neck, he was a very much active duty police officer.

Fri, 06/05/2020 - 9:18am

Here is an interesting study on the use of force by police.
With the implementation of these 8 recommended policies both citizens, and the police are safer.

Douglas Trevethan
Fri, 06/05/2020 - 11:18am

A bill aimed at "reducing" police brutality? How about ELIMINATING police brutality?

Geoffrey Owen
Fri, 06/05/2020 - 11:18pm

And how do we begin to retrain the Sheriffs who are political electees and think they can selectively choose which laws they will or will not enforce? I went to town for groceries today at a Meijer store and there were more than 50 people shopping the store who felt it unnecessary to wear a mask. The president thinks it unnecessary, the sheriffs think it unnecessary, and soon we are burying another 100,000 people. What? You think that the pandemic and the demonstrations against police brutality are a disconnect? I suppose so. However, as Law Enforcement acts independently of both Law and Science then we will remain in the sixteenth century for a very long time. Shut up and stay alert in class.

Mike Niemiec
Sat, 06/06/2020 - 8:59am

The training is a good start but I don't think it is enough. The rules of engagement need to be changed so officers are required to use their de-escalation training first and that physical force is a very last resort.