LANSING, Mich. — The Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday unanimously approved legislation sponsored by Sen. Rick Jones to ensure that bad behavior by a police officer will not be hidden by that officer’s resignation.
“After more than 30 years in law enforcement, I know the importance of public trust in our officers,” said Jones, R-Grand Ledge. “I want to ensure that Michigan has the best police officers on the road. To do that, we must make sure that bad behavior isn’t tolerated or hidden.”
Senate Bill 1022 would require a law enforcement agency to maintain a record regarding the reason for and the circumstances surrounding a separation of service of a police department and shall allow a prospective employing law enforcement agency to seek a copy of reasons and circumstances surrounding the separation.
Jones worked with the Michigan Commission on Law Enforcement Standards (MCOLES) on the legislation after learning that an Eaton County Sheriff deputy, who was accused of making an “abusive and improper arrest” in 2014, resigned and got a job with another sheriff department.
“I was shocked when I read the ‘Traffic Stop Gone Bad’ article in two Lansing papers and viewed the video in April,” said Jones, a former Eaton County sheriff. “I was even more shocked to read that the deputy went right out and got another police job.”
In the article, reporter Todd Heywood described how he obtained a cell phone video of a June 2014 traffic stop through the Freedom of Information Act. The deputy in the video was not wearing his body camera, but the young man who was stopped, Todd Brenizer, recorded the incident with his phone.
The article described how Brenizer was stopped for having a tail light out and then an “abusive and improper arrest” was made. The Eaton County sheriff did not fire the deputy or seek charges against him. After the video surfaced, Brenizer was released from jail and not charged by the prosecutor. While Brenizer’s attorney was negotiating a settlement with Eaton County, the deputy resigned and got a position with another sheriff department.
SB 1022 now heads to the full Senate for consideration.