Governor Whitmer Expands Law Enforcement Commission to Include Civil Rights Director, Community Leaders

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 12, 2020
Media Contact: Press@michigan.gov

Governor Whitmer Expands Law Enforcement Commission to Include Civil Rights Director, Community Leaders

Gov. Whitmer’s order brings community voices to the table as MCOLES considers police reforms  

LANSING, Mich. -- Today, Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed Executive Order 2020-121 to add four seats to The Michigan Commission on Law Enforcement Standards (MCOLES). The Director of the Michigan Department of Civil Rights and three community members appointed by the governor will occupy these seats. The governor’s order will bring more community voices to the table as the commission considers police reforms for our state.

“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,” said Governor Whitmer. “While there is more to do, this is a pivotal time. I look forward to working with law enforcement, the community and with everyone else who wants to build a more just, equitable state for all Michiganders.”

“We have the power and responsibility to change the current system to include more diverse voices and visions for the future,” Lt. Governor Gilchrist said. “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.”

“I fully support and welcome these additional members to the MCOLES Commission,” stated Col. Joe Gasper, director of the Michigan State Police. “The insight of these new members will provide a necessary outside perspective, and also serve to add another layer of transparency and accountability to policing in Michigan.”

Under the executive order, the three members appointed by the governor must not be a law enforcement officer, a Michigan tribal law enforcement officer, or be employed by or otherwise affiliated with a law enforcement agency or a law enforcement training academy.

The governor has taken a number of actions in the past two weeks to reform Michigan’s law enforcement agencies. On June 3, she announced her support for a series of policy plans for police reform in Michigan, calling on Michigan law enforcement agencies to enhance their training and policies to help create a police culture where all Michiganders are treated with dignity and respect under the law. Governor Whitmer also voiced her support for measures that require law enforcement officers to complete training on implicit bias and de-escalation techniques, and applauded the Senate for taking up Senate Bill 945, sponsored by Sen. Jeff Irwin, which addresses many of these issues. The governor also urged police agencies to require their officers to intervene when they observe an excessive use of force by another officer, which will save lives and help to keep people safe.

ACTIONS THE GOVERNOR IS TAKING:

  • Requesting that the Michigan Commission of Law Enforcement Standards (MCOLES) provide guidance to law enforcement agencies on continuing education that will help officers keep up with the everchanging landscape of new laws and issues facing the community, including diversity and implicit bias training.
  • Encouraging police departments to participate in efforts that are underway on comprehensive reporting on the use of force by police departments.
  • Urging law enforcement agencies to implement duty to intervene polices.
  • The governor applauded Southfield Police Chief Elvin Barren and Lansing Police Chief Daryl Green for their efforts in ensuring their officers intervene when an officer observes another officer doing something inappropriate or illegal.
  • Calling on the Legislature to act on SB 945.
  • Under Senator Irwin’s bill, SB 945, incoming law enforcement officers would be required by law to go through training on implicit bias, de-escalation techniques, and mental health screenings.

Under the leadership of Governor Whitmer and Col. Joe Gasper, the MSP has already taken a number of actions to reform policies that will ensure MSP members treat all Michiganders with dignity and respect.

ACTIONS MSP HAS TAKEN:

  • Created an Equity and Inclusion Officer position within the department.
  • Set a goal to increase the racial minority trooper applicant pool to 25 percent and the female trooper applicant pool to 20 percent, in an effort to diversify the department.
  • Established community service trooper positions to institute a community policing concept statewide.
  • Posted all non-confidential department policies online to increase transparency.
  • Implemented recurring implicit bias training for all enforcement members and assisted in the development and pilot of a nationwide implicit bias training for civilian personnel.
  • Generated a public-facing transparency web portal for FOIA requests.
  • Revised the department’s pursuit policy to limit the circumstances in which MSP members can engage in a vehicle pursuit.

Governor Whitmer has been committed to enacting criminal justice reforms since the day she took office. In April of 2019, she signed an executive order to create the Michigan Task Force on Jail and Pretrial Incarceration, chaired by Lieutenant Governor Gilchrist, which has reviewed the state’s jail and court data to expand alternatives to jail, safely reduce jail admissions and length of stay, and improve the effectiveness of the front end of Michigan’s justice system. The task force has produced a report and made recommendations that are awaiting action by the legislature.

In January of 2019, the governor signed Executive Order 2019-9, which requires each director of a state department and head of an autonomous agency to designate an Equity and Inclusion Officer to help strengthen non-discrimination protections for state employees.

To view Executive Order 2020-121 click the link below:

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Supportive Statements from Michigan Partners:

“This is an important first step for everyone in Michigan. The Michigan Commission on Law Enforcement has certainly done some important work when it comes to recognizing that there must be new standards for policing, training, and law enforcement reform. Clearly, there is a lot of work to do as they move forward and these additional voices will greatly enhance these efforts.” said Prosecutor Kym Worthy.

“I applaud the vision and leadership of Governor Whitmer instituting these important changes to the MCOLES Board.  What we in law enforcement have learned over the last months is that good policing requires the input of the community.  Adding additional  citizen voices as well as a State Civil Rights representative to provide input on how the State can effectively and fairly train our current and future police officers will only benefit law enforcement’s ability to build trusting relationships with the community members they serve and  protect,” said Muskegon County Prosecutor DJ Hilson.

In light of recent events in our county, and protests we have witnessed around the United States, the world, and even in Marquette, our home community, it is important that we recognize the need for additional civilian perspectives, and input from the Michigan Department of Civil Rights.” said Matt Wiese, Marquette County Prosecuting Attorney. “It is also important that we recognize that the vast majority of police officers go to work every day and professionally do their job to protect and serve our communities. The expansion of perspectives, will hopefully address the concerns raised by recent events, while continuing to support best practices developed through community policing efforts that focus on community oriented approaches to working with our citizens."

“I applaud Governor Whitmer for her swift response to the critical issue of criminal justice reform. The reforming of training for this Nation's police officers is an imperative for needed reform.” Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon.