Bill aims to keep troubled cops out of other departments

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LANSING, Mich. (WOOD0 — A measure aimed at keeping police officers with a history of bad behavior out of other departments is on its way to becoming Michigan law.

The bill has passed the Legislature and is headed to Gov. Rick Snyder’s desk for his signature.

“The problem we have are a few bad apples that hop from job to job,” state Sen. Rick Jones, who sponsored the bill, said. “This has become known as the gypsy cop phenomenon.”

Jones, a Republican from Grand Ledge, previously worked in law enforcement for more than 30 years. He was a deputy and worked his way up to sheriff, but he said he became aware of the problem just a few years ago.

In 2014, an Eaton County sheriff’s deputy, Greg Brown, was accused of excessive force. He resigned and then was hired at another department, where he again got in trouble for excessive force.

Recently, a Grand Rapids Police Department officer resigned after holding a gun to a handcuffed suspect’s head. There has been no word of him attempting to find a job at a different police agency.

“Why do chiefs and sheriffs sometimes allow people to resign? There’s no cost,” Jones said. “You don’t go through an extensive litigation and have attorneys involved. You just got rid of the problem.”

Jones’ measure will save information about the resignation, make sure the next employer gets it and give the old department immunity from being sued for giving it out.

“This is a man or woman who are given a gun, who have the power of life or death over citizens. We want to make sure we have the highest quality,” Jones said.

The Michigan Commission on Law Enforcement Standards — which sets the standards for the selection, training and licensing of officers, as well as revocation of licensing — supports the measure.

“It’s good for communities,” said Hermina Kramp, the acting executive director of MCOLES. “It’s good for the people of individual communities to know who the individual is that they’re hiring.”

24 Hour News 8 asked why such rules weren’t already in place.

“You know, I think there are loopholes in things that you don’t find in things until something happens and then when something happens, all of a sudden it becomes obvious,” Kramp said.

The Grand Rapids police unions also support the measure.

Jones is also working on another bill — Senate Bill 524 — with MCOLES. It would require nationwide FBI background checks for anyone applying for a police academy. Currently, only an applicant’s criminal record in Michigan is checked. That means people with felony convictions out of other states were slipping into the police academies and learning police tactics.

SB 524 has passed the Senate and is awaiting a hearing before the House Committee on Judiciary.

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