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Snyder promises stronger community relations with law enforcement

A Michigan State Police file photo.
Michigan State Police

Given the recent friction between law enforcement and citizens, Gov. Rick Snyder says action needs to be taken to forge better relationships.

Some of that action came Tuesday in the form of a 17-bill package and an executive order. Snyder says the legislation combined with the executive order will help strengthen community relations between law enforcement and the community.

“Over recent years in our country we’ve had a lot of challenges with the public trust and the relationship with law enforcement,” he said. “In Michigan I’m proud to say we’ve avoided any major problems, but you can’t take that for granted.”

Part of the executive order asks the Michigan Commission on Law Enforcement Standards (MCOLES) to look at what the Legislature can do to foster better relationships. While body cameras are not specifically mentioned, Snyder says he is on board.

“We should be doing more work with body cams,” he said. “It’s defining how big of pilot program we have, how it gets paid for, the FOIA issues – there’s a number of issues. But again, I think body cams can be effective under the appropriate circumstances.”

While the executive order calls for MCOLES to examine police and community relationships and make recommendations, the legislation puts a strong emphasis on training. It issues standards, requires continued training, gives a minimum standard for reserve officers, and issues funding for training.

Republican Senator Tonya Schuitmaker, R-Lawton, is a sponsor of the legislation. In a speech before Gov. Snyder signed it, Schuitmaker referred to the increased scrutiny on law enforcement. She referenced the public debate saying, “Much of that debate has focused upon training and accountability. This legislation will ensure that our officers receive the best training available.”

Under Snyder’s executive order, MCOLES has 120 days to study and report on how Michigan can improve its public and police relationships.