Senate approves Jones’ police ‘bad behavior’ bill

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Sen. Rick Jones

Sen. Rick Jones

LANSING, Mich. — The Michigan Senate 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.

“I served in law enforcement for more than half my life, and I know the importance of having the community trust our officers,” said Jones, R-Grand Ledge. “My focus with this legislation is to help build that trust by ensuring 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 would 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.

“While I was surprised when I read the ‘Traffic Stop Gone Bad’ article in two Lansing papers and viewed the video in April, I was shocked to learn that the accused deputy went right out and got another law enforcement job,” said Jones, a former Eaton County sheriff.

In the article, the reporter 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 recorded the incident with his phone.

The article described how the man 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, the man was released from jail and not charged by the prosecutor. While the young man’s attorney was negotiating a settlement with Eaton County, the deputy resigned and got a position with another sheriff’s department.

SB 1022 now heads to the House of Representatives for consideration.