State Rep. Graham Filler speaks in support of the public safety plan before the House voted on the proposal Thursday.
$368.5 million, policy reforms provide needed resources for first responders
State Rep. Graham Filler of DeWitt recently helped the House approve an expanded plan to support law enforcement and public safety personnel and help them better protect the people they serve.
The measures, approved with bipartisan support, include $368.5 million in funding and policy reforms to help first responders with recruitment and retention efforts, community outreach and equipment upgrades. In the wake of the tragic school shooting in Oxford, the plan was expended to add even more funding for school resource officers to work proactively with students and families – bringing the total to $50 million.
“Over the past decade, I have worked very closely with law enforcement as an assistant attorney general, a legislator and chair of the House Judiciary Committee.
“We say we want a safe society and community focused law enforcement. This plan gets to the heart of that,” Filler said during a speech in support of the proposal before the House vote. “This is a massive investment in our communities. It shows our local police officers that we hear them, we respect them, and we have their backs.”
Filler said the plan demonstrates a commitment to public safety at a time Michigan has nearly 4,000 fewer law enforcement officers than during the 2001 terrorist attacks. There are hundreds of unfilled positions across the state.
Pillars of the House plan include:
Recruitment and retention: The initiative includes $57.5 million for a ‘Move to Michigan’ recruitment plan to help local departments hire officers now working in other states. The plan ensures officers moving to Michigan will keep retirement benefits they’ve already earned in other states. Tuition assistance and grants to help offset expenses will make attending a police academy a more practical, affordable option for local law enforcement and corrections officer candidates. Local departments could receive grants to offer job shadowing and signing bonuses to new hires. Local law enforcement, fire departments, EMS agencies and corrections departments would get recruitment marketing support.
Public safety personnel who miss work because of COVID-19 quarantine could be reimbursed for lost wages and leave time. An additional $7.5 million would support mental health assistance for local law enforcement, firefighters, EMS personnel and other public safety officers.
Policy changes will allow local law enforcement agencies to pay for a new recruit’s academy tuition and enter a five-year employment contract with them. If the recruit leaves within that period they would be required to reimburse the agency for a portion of the training costs based on the amount of time spent with the department after their training is complete.
Other reforms expand the pool of qualified recruits, remove hurdles for returning officers and provide resources for part-time public service assistant positions to perform routine law enforcement tasks.
Strengthening bonds in neighborhoods and schools: In addition to the $50 million for school resource officers, the plan provides $10 million in grants for community policing initiatives shown to improve relationships between officers and people in the neighborhoods they serve. The mix of community policing and mentorship that make the Police Athletic League so successful in Detroit would be expanded to other communities with a $15 million investment.
Supplying essential equipment: More resources would be available for body-worn cameras and gear, narcotics team gear, communications equipment upgrades, local police K-9 units, and other essentials.
The $368.5 million supplemental appropriation is funded by one-time federal COVID relief and surplus state resources. The plan now advances to the Senate for further consideration.