Schuitmaker, O’Brien bills improve public safety

LANSING, Mich. — Legislation that would improve oversight and uniformity for Michigan’s law enforcement officers passed the Senate on Wednesday.

Senate Bills 92-96, sponsored by state Sens. Tonya Schuitmaker and Margaret O’Brien, would update the statutes governing the Michigan Commission on Law Enforcement Standards (MCOLES) — the organization responsible for overseeing the licensing and training of law enforcement officers in Michigan.

“Our law enforcement officers go out every day to perform a very difficult and dangerous job,” said Schuitmaker, R-Lawton. “This legislation will ensure that officers are held to the highest standards and are properly trained and qualified to protect the public.”

Currently MCOLES is governed by a variety of statutes and executive orders. The bills would codify the current commission and create clarity and consistency.

“Putting a consistent set of guidelines that all full-time and reserve officers must follow in statute is beneficial to both the law enforcement community and to the residents of Michigan,” said O’Brien, R-Portage. “Our law enforcement officers serve and protect, and these guidelines will ensure the utmost integrity while doing so.”

This legislation would also allow MCOLES to set minimum standards for reserve officers.

“Reserve officers are an important part of many law enforcement agencies across the state. But in some situations, we have seen questionable uses of these officers,” said Schuitmaker. “Certain agencies were giving untrained individuals vast law enforcement authority, while other agencies were hiring hundreds of reserve officers for very small communities.

“This package of bills will simply allow MCOLES to establish minimum standards for reserve officers in Michigan.”

Schuitmaker has been working with MCOLES and other interested parties to get these bills passed for a number of years. The legislation has received broad support from the law enforcement community.

SBs 92-96 passed out of the full Senate and now will move to the House of Representatives for consideration.