The Michigan House Appropriations Committee, chaired by Rep. Thomas Albert, today approved an expanded plan to support law enforcement and public safety personnel while better protecting the people they serve.
The $328.5 million plan is funded by one-time federal COVID relief and surplus state resources. The revised plan adds more support for firefighters and EMS personnel, while maintaining its focus on public safety recruitment and retention, community outreach and equipment upgrades. A special focus is on recruiting law enforcement officers now working in other states to Michigan.
“This public safety plan is even better and more comprehensive than the one we introduced last month,” Albert said. “A fundamental duty of government is to keep people safe – and sadly, that job has become more difficult for our community public safety departments. They are crippled by staff shortages and senseless anti-police rhetoric that makes an inherently stressful job even more stressful. This initiative moving through the House of Representatives will help attract and keep high-quality personnel – and give them resources they need to help protect the communities they work in.”
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.
Strengthening bonds in neighborhoods and schools: The plan provides $10 million for school resource officers to work proactively with students and families. Another $10 million in grants would be provided 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, and other essentials.
Other provisions include support for local police K-9 units.
The House plan was introduced at $250 million last month. In the revised version, $37 million has been added specifically to support firefighter and EMS personnel. Additional resources were added to support tracking of absconders and to assist extradition efforts, to address a backlog of gun cases in Wayne County, and for a jail mental health pilot project to evaluate incoming detainees and determine best corrections options.
House Bill 5522 advances to the House floor for future consideration.
Michigan House Appropriations Committee Chair Thomas Albert, R-Lowell, issued the following statement after media reports that Gov. Whitmer plans to veto more than $20 million supporting maternal health and adoption from the Legislature-approved state budget: