LANSING — The Michigan Senate unanimously approved a bill Thursday that would require police to be trained on implicit bias and de-escalation techniques to minimize the use of force more than a week after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis sparked nationwide protests.
The legislation would also mandate, starting in 2022, that officers complete annual continuing education. Michigan is among six states without such a requirement, according to a 2017 report.
"Every parent with a black or brown child in America faces ... the constant fear and anxiety that their children will be a victim of the police that we hire to protect and service. We must change this," the bill sponsor, Democratic Sen. Jeff Irwin of Ann Arbor, said while choking up.
Cadillac Michigan State Police Post Commander 1st Lt. Frank Keck said if the legislation eventually becomes law, it won't change much as they already do implicit bias training as part of the 21st Century Policing protocols from the Obama Administration.
"We already do (implicit bias training) and as the updates come out we take the classes as well," he said.
The measure, which was passed just a week after its introduction in the Republican-led chamber, was sent to the House for further consideration.
"We can't in one day change someone's subconscious or their deeply held unconscious biases. But if we can change what goes through an officer's mind when they encounter one of our community members who doesn't look like them, we could change the outcome," said Sen. Stephanie Chang, a Detroit Democrat who also was tearful.
Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said the passage of the bill is a necessary step in the right direction. She also said this will not undo years of overly aggressive police actions, but it does serve as an acknowledgement of the problems with how things have been done and the steps needed to drive change in the coming days, months and years.
"We cannot allow the system to continue to fail communities of color and this bill will allow us to move forward to bring about concrete change," she said.