Defunding the Police in Michigan?

Defunding the Police in Michigan?

So far, Michigan appears more inclined to reform than to defund. On June 6, 2020, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel tweeted, “Calls to abolish police departments and destroy their funding sources are not the solution.” Nessel has offered a list of reforms, including the creation of a state-wide police misconduct registry and an independent agency to investigate deaths of persons during police encounters.

A number of police-reform bills have been introduced recently in the Michigan Legislature. For example, HB 5837 would require law enforcement officers to receive training in de-escalation techniques, implicit bias training, procedural justice, and mental health resources; SB 967 would require law enforcement agencies to regulate law enforcement officers’ failure to intervene during the use of excessive force (and allow disciplinary actions for such failure); and SB 968 would prohibit police restraint tactics that involve applying pressure to an individual’s throat or windpipe. SB 968 would also create the Police Restraint Tactics Act.

Locally, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan has indicated a lack of enthusiasm for defunding the police. Duggan stated, “Instead of defund police, I come back to the question: If you have $600 million in the Wayne County Community Mental Health Board budget, and $300 million in the police budget, we should be demanding accountability from the mental health system, not talking about cutting the police budget.”10 And while there has been some discussion of defunding in Detroit, action does not appear imminent.

In Grand Rapids, the city charter requires that the police department receive a minimum of 32% of the city’s general fund. The City Commission allocated 38.6% of the city’s general fund ($55 million) to the police for 2021. The commission held a meeting in June to discuss a proposal to reduce the amount in the police budget to the required minimum 32% of the general fund, but the proposal did not come to a vote.11 The commission did, however, reallocate $400,000 of the police department budget to create three civilian positions within the police department

A change must come, now

A change must come to policing in America, that is the ultimate message of the Defund the Police movement. A change must come to the now widely evident racism and violence-orientation that has infected policing in America. The change must come now. The change must be deep and real and it must bring real results for the safety of all community members. For many, the only way real change will come is through defunding the police.

by John Zevalking
Associate Editor


2. Ray Rashawn, What does “defund the police” mean and does it have merit?
3. Philip V. McHarris and Thenjiwe McHarris, No More Money for the Police [Opinion], May 30, 2020, New York Times,
4. Id.
5. Rayshawn, What does defund the police mean?