By Senator Glenn Anderson-Westland(D)
Throughout my career, I have had the good fortune of working closely with our law enforcement community on a number of issues. The men and women I have met have chosen a career in law enforcement out of a desire to serve and protect the public. This is made clear by the pride officers take in their work and the integrity with which they carry out their duties. As a lawmaker, I believe it is crucial to maintain an open and honest line of communication with the officers that enforce our state’s laws on a daily basis. This dialogue has been a valuable source of information and helped me to gain a better understanding of issues dealing with public safety and the importance of revenue sharing that our state provides to local communities. These dollars are crucial to local governments when making important decisions about how to fund local police and fire departments. I have been a strong advocate for protecting this funding to ensure we continue to provide this essential funding to our communities. Conversations with officers have also led me to explore the use of citation quotas within our state. Many police department administrations require that officers issue a specific number of citations each month. Failure to do so can have a negative impact on the evaluation of an officer’s performance. Many Michigan residents would be surprised to know that Michigan law not only does not prohibit the use of quotas but actually explicitly permits them. As a result, I recently introduced Senate Bill 741, legislation that would eliminate the permissive language currently in law and prohibit the use of quotas in the evaluation of a law enforcement officer’s performance. Representative Richard LeBlanc has also introduced House Bill 5287 in the Michigan House, which mirrors my Senate Bill. While serving on the Westland City Council I came to value the experience of the members of the city’s police force. Their experience gave them the knowledge necessary to make the important judgment calls they are faced with on a daily basis. I believe a ticket quota system places unnecessary constraints on the officer’s ability to use the experience and training they have gained on the job and is not only a detriment to the officer but is also a disservice to the citizens they serve. Senate Bill 741 would stop this practice and allow officer’s greater discretion to use their training and experience when determining whether a warning may be more appropriate than writing a ticket. Evaluation of an officer’s performance should not be based on their ability to meet an arbitrary standard for citations issued. Rather, officers should be evaluated for the overall quality of work they do and whether they are fulfilling their duty to protect and to serve their community. Law enforcement is not about how many moving citations are issued, but whether driving behavior is affected in a positive way that improves public safety. This is why I have introduced this bill and will encourage my colleagues to give it the consideration it deserves. I urge you to contact your legislators to express your support for my bill as well as Rep. LeBlanc’s bill. You may find the appropriate contact information for your senator by visiting www.senate.mi.gov and clicking the ‘Find Your Senator’ link. You can locate your state representative by going to www.house.mi.gov and clicking the ‘Representatives’ button. My office would also be happy to answer any questions you may have about the bill or the legislative process it must undergo to become law.