LANSING — State Rep. Padma Kuppa (D-Troy) introduced House Bills 4944 and 4945 this week to create grant programs to diversify the police force of local departments throughout Michigan. A 2017 report released by the Michigan Commission on Law Enforcement Standards recommended the diversification of local police forces as a key way to foster and encourage public trust in law enforcement. This legislation mirrors Senate Bills 501 and 502 simultaneously introduced by state Sen. Winnie Brinks (D-Grand Rapids).

“While many local police departments recognize and actively pursue workforce diversity, these efforts are often limited by the ability to attract qualified candidates,” said Kuppa. “My bills are designed to enhance this ability by offering grant programs to attract and actively recruit women, minorities and other historically underrepresented groups to local police departments. I am proud to work alongside my colleague in the Senate with local law enforcement agencies so they can achieve their goal of better reflecting the communities they serve.”

Extensive research has concluded that interacting with colleagues from different backgrounds, life experiences, worldviews and social identities in non-confrontational settings improve decision-making abilities, with the potential to positively impact public trust in law enforcement. Kuppa’s and Brinks’ bills would provide local police departments with matching grants to encourage the development of recruit scholarships and career awareness programs for members of historically underrepresented communities looking to pursue work in law enforcement.

“Diversity makes our state stronger, and it is important that the law enforcement agencies protecting our communities reflect the people they serve,” Brinks said. “When police officers of different backgrounds, life experiences and social identities build relationships, they learn from one another, emerging with wider worldviews that enhance their ability to evaluate diverse situations and to keep our neighborhoods safe.”

The Department of Technology, Management and Budget would serve as the lead state agency for the scholarship and grant program. State funds would be matched on a one-to-one basis by the local government.