Advance Notice: Briefs

4 community members added to law enforcement standards commission

By: - June 15, 2020 10:54 am

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer at a June 4 march against police brutality in Southeast Michigan | Gov. Whitmer office photo

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has added four seats, including the director of the Michigan Department of Civil Rights, to the Michigan Commission on Law Enforcement Standards (MCOLES).

Executive Order 2020-121 issued Friday states that the three other members appointed by the governor must not be a law enforcement officer, a Michigan tribal law enforcement officer or be employed by or affiliated with a law enforcement agency or training academy.  

“Expanding the commission to bring diverse, community voices to the table during this national conversation and movement to improve community-police relations is a proactive step toward strengthening and healing our communities together,” Whitmer said in a statement. 

Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist at a June 4 march against police brutality in Southeast Michigan | Gov. Whitmer office photo

On Sunday, Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist echoed the governor’s sentiment on adding community oversight to MCOLES on NBC News Capitol Hill.

“That’s really important because there was not enough civilian representation and oversight in that body … but we believe that people from communities and people who are the closest to the problems, will experience them every day,” Gilchrist said. “These are the people who have the solutions, and that’s why we expand the board in this way.”

State-level conversations on police reform in Michigan were kickstarted after the May killing of George Floyd, a 45-year-old Black man from Minneapolis, by a police officer who pinned a knee on Floyd’s neck. Protests have taken place in more than 2,000 cities across the country.

In recent weeks, Whitmer has voiced her support for police reform policies and legislation, including Senate Bill 945, which would require all incoming law enforcement officers to complete training on implicit bias, de-escalation techniques and mental health screening. 

The Senate has passed the bill. On Tuesday, the House moved the bill to the Judiciary Committee. 

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The governor also called on law enforcement agencies to enhance their training and require officers to intervene when they observe an excessive use of force by another officer.

“We have the power and responsibility to change the current system to include more diverse voices and visions for the future,” said Lt. Governor Gilchrist. “When we bring more full and complete community representation to the policy-making table, our policies begin to look like, feel like, and be more responsive to the people we serve.” 

Col. Joseph Gasper, director of the Michigan State Police, said the additional members will “add another layer of transparency and accountability to policing in Michigan.” 

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Allison R. Donahue
Allison R. Donahue

Allison R. Donahue covers education, women's issues and LGBTQ issues. Previously, she was a suburbs reporter at the St. Cloud Times in St. Cloud, Minn., covering local education and government. As a graduate of Grand Valley State University, she has previous experience as a freelance researcher for USA Today and an intern with WOOD TV-8. When she is away from her desk, she spends her time going to concerts, comedy shows or getting lost on hikes in different places around the world.