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Politics

Michigan Senate Judiciary and Public Safety committees debate bi-partisan police reform bills

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Dodge Charger Michigan State Police car by Corvair Owner is licensed with CC BY-SA 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/
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A year after the murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer, the Michigan Senate Judiciary and Public Safety committee has started debate on 12 bi-partisan police reform bills.

Some reforms include allowing the state to revoke the licenses of problem officers, and allowing police unions to opt out of defending certain officers.

Democratic State Senator Jeremy Moss says right now there is no process to deal with “wandering” officers who have abused their power in one department and then moved on to another following dismissal or discipline.

“We have to ensure that police officers who repeatedly and dangerously breach department policy are removed from the force," Moss said.

Republican State Senator Ken Horn says he has some concerns about officers being treated fairly, wanting to make sure the process to cancel an officer's license is done with due process.

“What burden of proof is used [to make] a determination that the officer has caused death and serious bodily harm," Horn said, "Who makes the determination, a court employer or somebody else? Are we ensuring that there is due process? Is there an appeals process?”.

Other measures up for debate include limiting no-knock warrants, chokeholds, and making anti-bias and de-escalation training mandatory.

Concerning the reforms surrounding police unions, Democratic Senator Adam Hollier of Detroit says unions shouldn’t be required to represent cops who have committed obvious and heinous acts.

“It allows police unions to maintain their credibility in the community, that they are also understanding that sometimes people go over the line and that all police officers and certainly all police unions should not be viewed as though they are defending people who we all can recognize our bad actors," Hollier said.

This is the second attempt at passing reform bills. Last year, Democrats introduced similar legislation, but the GOP-led committees did not let them advance.