Legislation that would allow corporations, nonprofits and other entities to set up their own policing agencies came under heavy criticism Tuesday from a variety of law enforcement groups at the Senate Government Operations Committee.

SB 594* and SB 595* would allow such an entity, if licensed by the Department of State Police, to reach a contract with a special police agency for a set period of time in a set geographic location. These agencies would have the same arresting authority as regular police officers and have governmental immunity.

Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof (R-West Olive), the sponsor of the bills, said they would simply extend to more entities powers already enjoyed by public universities, community colleges and hospitals.

Harry Dolan, a former Grand Rapids police chief who now heads the Dolan Consulting Group, said special police agencies supplement traditional police agencies at a time of fewer officers.

“We are working with fewer resources and facing a greater need than ever before,” he told the committee. “This legislation will help fill an ever-increasing void.”

But a long lineup of law enforcement groups – the State Police, Michigan Association of Chiefs of Police, Oakland County Sheriff’s Department and the Police Officers Association of Michigan – voiced strong opposition to the legislation.

Howell Police Chief George Basar invoked the specter of the private military organization Blackwater, which came under heavy criticism for its conduct in Iraq.

“At some level, it almost feels like we’re creating a Blackwater for policing here in the state of Michigan,” he said. “It almost feels like we’re putting together a mercenary force to police some of our communities.”

An irritated Mr. Meekhof cut him off, calling such comments “conjecture” and “out of line.” There are accountability standards in the legislation, he said.

Law enforcement officials raised concerns about training, LEIN access and auditing requirements. Sergeant Tim Fitzgerald of the State Police said the department opposes having licensing authority, saying such activities are better handled by the Michigan Commission on Law Enforcement Standards.

Ken Grabowski of POAM questioned the caliber of officers a private policing agency would employ.

“The main job of government is to protect the people, not farm out their services to private entities for a for-profit police department,” he said. “We just feel this type of action would be ripe for corruption. The employees you would hire in a private entity would probably be the employees that wouldn’t make it in a real police department.”

No vote was taken on the bills.

Article via The Gongwer News Service. Read POAM’s original Urge to No-Vote article.

3 responses to “Law Enforcement Objects To Private Policing Bill

Posted by Doctor Liberty

Law Enforcement in our county keeps applying for grants that tie them to traffic enforcement — grants that require them to keep X number of deputies on the road and to collect a certain level of ticket revenue, or face loss of grants.

Meanwhile, the department is (like many around the state) having a problem recruiting (currently staffed at 10+% below the budgeted number of deputies). This has caused considerable overtime expense. It has also resulted in reassignment of personnel from Vice and MANTIS to the road for traffic enforcement in order to maintain revenue and retain full grant awards.

This is at cross purposes with what the public wants from law enforcement, which includes patrolling of neighborhoods, investigation and solution of crimes, recovery of stolen property, and efforts against human trafficking — NOT Seatbelt Enforcement Zones, speed traps, and seizure of assets from cannabis patients (AKA policing for profit), etc.

If the current pattern persists, ie, tax dollars are simply going to be redirected through grants to establish new revenue streams from traffic enforcement, and not accomplish what citizens say they need and want, then more private entities may be in our future as a viable option or alternative–not just to augment current staffing levels, but contracted in such a way as to provide the original services for which law enforcement departments were established in the first place by citizens.

Posted on November 5, 2017 at 11:50 PM

Posted by Joe Walker, Ottawa County DSA President

Thanks for taking the fight on this horrendous bill directly to Senator Meekhof and his personal political tool, the Senate Government Operations Committee. Public and Senate education on how essentially unconstitutional and bad this bill is to voters and their voting power over local law enforcement accountability needs to continue to be put out there in the mainstream.

No one should think for a second that this would only affect road patrol policing either. Once this hits police, it will very likely hit corrections next (Wackenhut and the likes of the 1980’s “Gladiator School” in CA ring a bell to anyone) and soon after that, fire departments. ALL of public safety needs to speak out on this and contact your senators and state reps immediately and tell them to vote NO on SB 0594!

Thanks again to Jim, Ken, Dave, and all of you at POAM and in Lansing fighting on the front lines. It’s truly appreciated!

Posted on October 7, 2017 at 10:34 AM

Posted by Jill Kulhanek

Good job to all, thanks Chief Basar for continuing the fight!

Posted on October 6, 2017 at 7:13 AM

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