LANSING (WXYZ) — Tuesday marks one year since the death of George Floyd and in that year climactic calls for racial justice and police reform, of which still eludes the state of Michigan.
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Michigan is one of 19 states that have not enacted police reform legislation, despite bills introduced in both chambers of the legislature.
Tensions reached a near-historic high between police and the communities they serve this past year since George Floyd's death.
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Calls for justice, justice for George Floyd that was answered, calls for equality and calls for police reform.
Saved for a last-minute surprise is President Joe Biden's goal of passing the George Floyd Justice and Policing Act by the anniversary of Floyd's death, which appears elusive.
The act would ban chokeholds and no-knock warrants, set up a national registry of police misconduct and overhaul qualified immunity – a legal doctrine that protects law enforcement from civil lawsuits.
“(It's) the only profession that there’s no accountability," said Tyrone Carter. "When we think about what has happened in this state with Doctor Nassar and the Doctor up at UofM, we moved bills to make sure that we have bad actors that are doctors that do anything.”
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Carter spent 25 years with the Wayne County Sheriff's Office. He's now a Democrat state representative for Detroit and says since his time in law enforcement, much has changed.
“What hasn’t changed is some of the policies," he said. "So when are we going to be honest about upgrading the policies to fit the times? Certain things like body cameras. I can’t understand why some departments are resistant to body cameras. Because we found in the city of Detroit, that body cameras just dismissed a lot of the charges that citizens say this happened. The tape is independent.”
Roughly 30 states have enacted some version of police reform legislation, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
Twenty-five of which related to three areas:
- Use of force
- Duty for officers to intervene, report or render medical aid in instances of police misconduct
- or misconduct reporting and decertification
Michigan is not any of those states, but it's not due to bills not being introduced.
Senate Bill 945 would require training on implicit bias and de-escalation techniques for officers. It passed the Republican-controlled Senate unanimously but stalled in the Republican-controlled House.
The Michigan Association of Chiefs of Police opposed it.
"For the most part, some of my counterparts, Republican and Democrat, don’t see a problem in their communities," Carter said. "So it's one of those ‘Not in my backyard. We don’t have a problem in my district,’ Well, it's not about your district. This is a global issue. It's not just a Michigan issue."
In Detroit, use of force reforms were enacted inside the Detroit Police Department following a consent decree. A judge releasing DPD from oversight in August of 2014.
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And the department has shown ability to police itself, firing two officers for racist Snapchat posts as an example.
"After the George Floyd incident. I mean police, I had some officers tell me they wouldn’t go eat in some places," Carter said. "They wouldn’t because they were worried about somebody doing something to their food. So we’ve got to do something to change that. And we have an opportunity to do it in the Michigan Legislature."