Michigan House Dems propose police reform package

Michigan

LANSING, Mich. (WOOD) — Democrats in the Michigan House of Representative on Tuesday announced a series of bills aimed at reforming policing.

House Democrats said their package of 16 bills aims to “bring transformational change to policing in Michigan” and “increase safety for the public and accountability for law enforcement.” Among other things, the bills would ban chokeholds and no-knock warrants.

“There is absolutely nothing political about this bill package,” Rep. Tenisha Yancey, D-Harper Woods, said during a press conference announcing it.

Rep. Sarah Anthony, D-Lansing, spotlighted two bills she introduced: One would prohibit the use of volunteer officers who aren’t licensed by the Michigan Commission on Law Enforcement Standards. Another would require parents to be notified before a minor is taken into custody for questioning.

Another lawmaker introduced legislation to end qualified immunity qualified immunity for officers who use unreasonable or deadly force; the legal doctrine currently protects officers from lawsuits.

“(Qualified immunity makes) it nearly impossible for officers who abuse their power or use unreasonable amounts of force to be held accountable,” Rep. Felicia Brabec, D-Pittsfield Township, said.

Also on hand at the press conference were Breonna Taylor’s mother Tamika Palmer and Taylor’s cousin, Tawanna Gordon. Taylor, a Grand Rapids native who still has family living in the area, was shot and killed by Louisville, Kentucky, police when they raided the apartment she shared with her boyfriend. Along with the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police, Taylor’s death galvanized a nationwide push to reform policing and reckon with the history of racism in the United States.

“It’s time that we reimagine search warrant operations as they relate to narcotics investigations,” Palmer said. “The risks associated with no-knock warrants and warrants executed in the middle of the night are too dangerous to citizens and officers alike. No amount of drugs seized is ever worth taking the life of someone. It’s necessary that we ban no-knock warrants so that no other parent has to receive the call that I received in the wee hours of the morning of March 13, 2020.”

Gordon called on Michigan lawmakers to approve the reform bills.

“We ask Michigan politicians to consider all the mothers in this country, Black and brown, who are not able to go back to normal after their loved one has had their life cut short to police brutality and excessive use of force tactics that are outdated, because normal does not exist for them anymore,” Gordon said.

The Democrats’ package is not the only plan in the works. In the state Senate, Sen. Roger Victory, R-Georgetown Township, said he’s working with Sen. Stephanie Chang, D-Detroit, to get a bipartisan, 12-bill package passed. Those bills had a committee hearing Tuesday and will have another later this week.

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