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Michigan law enforcement leaders outline problems facing their departments

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steve carmody
Michigan Radio
Michigan law enforcement leaders gather for a news conference Monday. Oakland County Sheriff Mike Bouchard says the state's proposed budget "is a bipartisan failure for funding proper priorities to make better police outcomes truly a priority and not a rhetorical speech."

Some top Michigan law enforcement officials say they need help dealing with rising crime and difficulty attracting new people to the profession.

Local and county officials met in Waterford Township Monday to discuss the problems their departments have in common. Warrant enforcement, changes to probation and negative public perceptions of police are near the top of the list. However, money is a primary concern.

Oakland County Sheriff Mike Bouchard said he does not expect the needed money will come from Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s budget proposal. He said that's been a recurring theme.

“It goes to all the budgets before it. It’s not just this governor. This is a bipartisan failure for funding proper priorities to make better police outcomes truly a priority and not a rhetorical speech,” said Bouchard.

The law enforcement officials said they would like to see some of the federal COVID-19 relief funds directed to law enforcement.

But State Sen. Jim Runestad (R-White Lake) complained the governor's budget contains too many “feel-good” budget items.

As an example, the Republican state senator pointed to the governor’s proposal to provide “hero pay” to all Michigan police officers, first responders and firefighters, as well as teachers, grocery workers and child care workers. Runestad said the relief funds would be better used by looking at where there are employee shortages and putting the money toward those areas.

 “People are not concerned about the ‘feel-good’ if they feel like their lives are endangered,” said Runestad.

Runestad promised the law enforcement leaders that Michigan lawmakers would act. But he said they are still developing legislation.

Groups representing police officers aren’t waiting.

“Whatever level they’re at right now, we’re going to be pushing for more,” said Wayne Beerbower, with the Police Officers Association of Michigan.

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Radio since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.
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