Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said Monday she wants to ban police use of chokeholds and make racially motivated 911 calls hate crimes.

The measures were among a new series of police reforms called for by Whitmer, who on June 3 announced other measures she wants enacted in Michigan, including requiring police officers to intervene if they see colleagues using excessive force.

Whitmer called for the ban on chokeholds as protests continue in Michigan and across the country over the Memorial Day death of George Floyd, after an arrest by Minneapolis police in which a former officer used his knee to press down on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes, despite the fact Floyd said he could not breathe.

“All Michiganders, no matter their community or the color of their skin, deserve equal treatment under the law,” Whitmer said in a news release.

“This proposal will help us ensure that law enforcement officials treat all Michiganders with humanity and respect, and will help us keep our communities safe. I will continue working with leaders in law enforcement to make public safety more just and equitable in Michigan.”

The measures Whitmer called for Monday include:

Further limits on use of no-knock warrants Incentive programs for law enforcement agencies to hire/retain officers who live where they work Call on an arm of the Department of Health and Human Services to recommend best practices and training for police responding to calls involving people who are mentally ill Promotion of programs to improve relationships between police, communities and community leaders

On June 3, Whitmer called for the police intervention requirement, as well as improved police training, including training on implicit bias and improved reporting of police use of force. She set a goal to increase the minority trooper applicant pool to 25% and the female trooper applicant pool to 20%.

She has also called for the addition of four seats to the Michigan Commission on Law Enforcement Standards, which sets professional standards in education, selection, employment, licensing and funding in law enforcement and criminal justice in Michigan, to give it a greater community voice.

On Monday, Whitmer said the commission should audit law enforcement agencies to ensure they are accurately reporting violations of law or improper use of force, and establish penalties for agencies that fail to comply.

Whitmer said in an early June interview she supports “the spirit” of “defund the police” –a slogan of the Black Lives Matter movement. Though Whitmer said in the interview defunding the police is about prioritizing resources, she later clarified her remarks to say the spirit of it is about rebuilding communities in a just and equitable manner to level the playing field, but not necessarily at the expense of police departments.

Paul Egan


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