LANSING, Mich., June 8, 2021 —State Reps. Tenisha Yancey, Detroit Caucus Chair (D-Harper Woods), Sarah Anthony, Michigan Legislative Black Caucus 1st Vice Chair (D-Lansing), and Felicia Brabec (D-Pittsfield) held a press conference today to unveil their plan for police reforms in Michigan. The Justice for All plan aims to improve safety and restore public trust through increased accountability measures and banning archaic and dangerous police procedures, including no-knock warrants and chokeholds.
“Each and every person who lost their life at the hands of the police was a human being who deserved to be respected and protected,” Yancey said. “While it is both clear and unfortunate that we as a society failed to protect them, my colleagues and I will continue to fight to ensure that they receive justice. We stand for each and every one of them.”
The legislators were joined by Tamika Palmer and Tawanna Gordon, mother and cousin of Breonna Taylor. Palmer and Gordon shared their experiences of losing Breonna at the hands of the Louisville Police and their fight for justice.
“I have always known my number one job is to protect my kids,” Palmer said. “Part of that for me now is fighting for accountability for Breonna and to put an end to this so that no other mothers have to experience this pain.”
The plan would require law enforcement to report uses of force, misconduct complaints and the results of any investigation of misconduct complaints to the Michigan Commission on Law Enforcement Standards (MCOLES). It would also make that data available to the public.
“We’ve all heard and been horrified by the stories of officers who were dismissed or placed on leave because of misconduct just picking up and moving to a new community and police department,” Anthony said. “These wandering officers, as they are sometimes called, are often rehired because there is no way for the new department to know of their past misconduct. By requiring all law enforcement agencies to report to MCOLES, we can plug that information gap, making our communities much safer. The time for action is now.”
Another accountability measure proposed during the press conference was ending qualified immunity when officers use unreasonable force.
“To be clear, we aren’t suggesting that the police be held to a different punitive standard, but rather that they be held to the same standard as everyone else,” Brabec said. “Only one percent of officer-involved civilian deaths faced criminal accountability, and even fewer faced civil liability. We must do better.”
“We must support effective law enforcement and exercise our constitutional rights to ensure those laws are fair, balanced and work as they should – to protect all Americans regardless of race or ethnicity,” Cynthia M. Douglas, President, Grosse Pointes & Harper Woods NAACP said.