LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Rick Jones has introduced legislation to ensure that a police officer’s bad behavior will not be hidden by that officer’s resignation.
“After more than 30 years in law enforcement, I know how important it is for the community to have trust in their officers,” said Jones, R-Grand Ledge. “The vast majority of our police officers and sheriff deputies are good public servants. Unfortunately, it only takes one bad apple to spoil the public’s trust. Building trust in the community starts with ensuring that bad behavior is not tolerated, and that is the purpose of this legislation.”
Senate Bill 53 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.
“I was surprised when I read the ‘Traffic Stop Gone Bad’ article last year in two Lansing papers and viewed the video, but I was shocked to learn that the accused deputy was able to go right out and get a job in another law enforcement office,” 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. After the video surfaced, the man was released from jail and was not charged by the prosecutor.
The Eaton County sheriff did not fire the deputy or seek charges against him. 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 53 has been referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee for consideration.