Advancing plan provides $368.5 million, policy reforms for first responders
State Rep. Jack O’Malley on Thursday joined the Michigan House in approving an expanded plan to support law enforcement and public safety personnel while helping them better protect the people they serve.
The measures, approved with bipartisan support, include $368.5 million in funding and policy reforms to help law enforcement officers, firefighters and emergency medical services with recruitment and retention efforts, community outreach and equipment upgrades.
“Protecting people and their families across northern Michigan and our state is vital,” said O’Malley, of Lake Ann. “First responders play a major role in public safety and it’s important that they have the resources they need to do the job effectively.
“This is a substantial commitment to safety in Michigan.”
The $368.5 million supplemental appropriation is funded by one-time federal COVID relief and surplus state resources.
The revised plan is an even bigger commitment than the preliminary $80 million plan the House approved in May and the $250 million plan House Republicans unveiled last month. In the wake of the tragic school shooting in Oxford this week, O’Malley and House members provided additional funding for school resource officers to work proactively with students and families – raising the total allotment from $10 million to $50 million.
“The response time was accelerated with an officer in that building,” O’Malley said. “Local law enforcement officials said that a school resource deputy and a responding deputy were able to disarm and arrest the suspect. This is a system that worked to prevent further tragedy in an instance where an active shooter was present, and this funding will allow school districts across Michigan – including in our area of the state – to fund these positions and keep kids safe.”
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.
Policy changes will allow local law enforcement agencies to pay for a new recruit’s academy tuition and enter a five-year employment contract with them. If the recruit leaves within that period they would be required to reimburse the agency for a portion of the training costs based on the amount of time spent with the department after their training is complete.
Other reforms expand the pool of qualified recruits, remove hurdles for returning officers and provide resources for part-time public service assistant positions to perform routine law enforcement tasks.
Strengthening bonds in neighborhoods and schools: The plan provides $10 million in grants 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 in communities across Michigan 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, local police K-9 units, and other essentials.
The plan now advances to the Senate for further consideration.
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