Schuitmaker, O’Brien bills improve public safety

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LANSING, Mich. — Legislation that would improve oversight and uniformity for Michigan’s law enforcement officers was finalized by the state Senate and House of Representatives this week.

Senate Bills 92-96, sponsored by state Sens. Tonya Schuitmaker and Margaret O’Brien, would update the statutes governing the Michigan Commission on Law Enforcement Standards (MCOLES) — the entity responsible for overseeing the licensing and training of more than 19,000 law enforcement officers across Michigan.

“Our law enforcement officers go out every day to perform a difficult and dangerous job,” said Schuitmaker, R-Lawton. “This legislation will ensure that officers are held to the highest standards and are properly trained and qualified to protect the public.”

“Putting a consistent set of guidelines that all full-time and reserve officers must follow in statute is beneficial to both the law enforcement community and to the residents of Michigan,” added O’Brien, R-Portage. “Our law enforcement officers serve and protect, and these guidelines will ensure the utmost integrity while doing so.”

MCOLES is currently governed by a variety of statutes and executive orders that have been updated in a piecemeal fashion for many years. The bills would codify the current commission and create clarity and consistency.

“Senate Bills 92, 93, and 94 are the most significant and positive changes to the MCOLES statutes since its inception in 1965,” said MCOLES Executive Director Dave Harvey. “The new legislation will increase the professionalism in law enforcement across the entire state of Michigan.

“The commission is very grateful to the senator for her continued support of law enforcement and her diligence and hard work in sponsoring this important legislation.”

The legislation would also allow MCOLES to set minimum standards for reserve officers for the first time.

“Reserve officers are an important part of many law enforcement agencies across the state, but in some situations, we have seen questionable uses of these officers,” Schuitmaker said. “Certain agencies were giving untrained individuals vast law enforcement authority, while other agencies were hiring hundreds of reserve officers for very small communities.

“This package of bills will simply allow MCOLES to establish minimum standards for reserve officers in Michigan.”

Schuitmaker has been working for a number of years with MCOLES and other interested parties to advance the legislation. The measures have received broad support from the law enforcement community.

SBs 92-96 will be sent to the governor for his signature.