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Michigan attorney general says more oversight of police needed

head shot of Dana Nessel
Jodi Westrick
Michigan Radio

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel is proposing statewide changes to policing oversight, to reduce excessive use of force incidents.

She says the Michigan Commission on Law Enforcement Standards issues licenses for police, but needs more authority to take those licenses away.

"And I think it's one of the reasons why you see officers that have committed numerous acts of misconduct and they still have their license," says Nessel. "And also officers that get terminated by a particular agency, they're so easily able to just go to another agency because they still have their license."

Nessel is also proposing making police disciplinary records available to the public.  

The other proposals include: 

  • Mandating that law enforcement agencies maintain all disciplinary records of a police officer in his or her personnel file.  
  • Amending the Public Employee Benefits Forfeiture Act (MCL 38.2701, et al.) so that officers forfeit their retirement benefits upon conviction of a felony related to misconduct while on duty.  
  • Mandating law enforcement agencies report use of force data, disaggregated by race, sex, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, religion and age.  
  • Creating an independent investigative and prosecutorial process for deaths that involve the actions of law enforcement officers.  
  • Requiring continuing education for law enforcement officers as a license requirement; improving and standardizing police policies and trainings (including de-escalation, cultural competence and implicit bias trainings).  

Nessel calls the proposals a start, and says she'll be engaging in conversations with members of the Legislature, community groups, advocacy groups, law enforcement agencies and other relevant stakeholders to discuss these proposals in addition to other potential changes.

She says such changes will be in the best interest of law enforcement officers themselves.

"Everybody wants to blame the police, but I think in a lot of ways it's those of us who are supposed to be overseeing the police," she says. "We're just not providing them with the tools that they need to be great at their jobs."

Tracy Samilton covers energy and transportation, including the auto industry and the business response to climate change for Michigan Public. She began her career at Michigan Public as an intern, where she was promptly “bitten by the radio bug,” and never recovered.
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