Policing Act Ramifications Update
Posted on March 5, 2021
On Wednesday, March 3, 2021, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act (HR1280), 220 to 212. Touted as a police reform measure, the bill passed along nearly straight party lines, with only 2 Democrats voting NO, against the bill.
The bill was drafted last summer in response to the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, MN, and was quickly passed in the House only to die in the Senate. Vigorously criticized by POAM and many other national police organizations for a number of issues, especially due to the elimination of “qualified immunity” protections for law enforcement. Tanking this protection, for officers involved in the use of force encounters, results due to changes to the legal standard of “objective reasonableness” to “only when necessary” thus eliminating legal protection for police officers in these situations.
These changes remove any legal protections for officers while making it easier to prosecute them for mistakes on the job, not just criminal acts.
POAM has worked diligently to inform Members of Congress of these problems and congratulates Congressman Fred Upton (R, MI-6th) for switching his earlier vote and voting NO on Wednesday. The bill now moves to the Senate where its prospects remain uncertain.
Posted on March 2, 2021
On Friday, February 26, 2021, the POAM Legislation team penned a letter to the entire Michigan Congressional Delegation regarding the recent House action on the “George Floyd Justice in Policing Act.” Read the full letter and view the full bill below.
Dear Michigan Congressional Delegation,
Following the recent House action on the “George Floyd Justice in Policing Act,” we urge you to carefully review the ramifications of any such legislation. Please be advised, a push to quickly pass an act to address many legitimate societal concerns, without real reform would be a serious mistake. To simply rush forward appears to be a political move to check off a box rather than an honest attempt to develop policies to improve policing practices in America. The Police Officers Association of Michigan supports improving policing practices, particularly regarding ensuring greater transparency, accountability, and training in law enforcement. We have consistently advocated and supported these measures to make policing better and improve our profession.
Police officers are often expected to do everything, fix the ills of society, correct improper parenting, have an answer to every question, and deal with the most violent elements of society at the same time without hurting or offending anyone. Many times, officers are challenged by individuals seeking to create an incident. Across the state of Michigan, many police departments are understaffed, officers are overworked, underpaid, and disrespected — no one wants the job anymore. Our communities are experiencing trouble recruiting new candidates, standards have been lowered and past questionable behavior is ignored just to fill positions. At the same time, for the past decade, many communities have defunded police departments. The results of this underfunding are clear; pensions have been cut or eliminated, pay frozen and reduced, health care cut for active employees, and eliminated for retirees.
Today, those that are willing to enter the profession see their decisions often seconded guessed like no other occupation, their actions are recorded, videotaped, documented, their positions are always known from GPS. And if mistakes are made, every police officer is considered guilty, convicted in the media, and from “MOB” mentality, without the basic dueprocess rights afforded to any criminal. Additionally, this is one of the few professions, where if a mistake is made, you could lose your job and go to jail.
We urge you to consider that instead of passing legislation that may not be needed, we should allow our judicial system to work. It is a fact that across America police officers that violate laws and rules are charged criminally, convicted, disciplined, and fired from their jobs.
When the time is taken to actually investigate the facts, you will find justice is being served on all parties. We are asking you to support law enforcement, investigate the facts, be aware of the MOB mentality.
We thank you for your time and consideration and stand ready to assist you and your colleagues in working to create a more transparent and open criminal justice system.
Kenneth E. Grabowski, Legislative Director
Police Officers Association of Michigan
Questions and Comments
Please feel free to contact POAM with any questions, concerns, or further information.