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Michigan Legislators argue over the best way to provide more funding for cops

May 17, 2021

On Thursday, MLive reported that a group of Republican lawmakers in Michigan had presented their police funding plan, which would include $80 million for recruiting and training.

The article cites House Speaker Jason Wentworth and his fellow Republican, Rep. Mike Mueller. While the MLive article mentions some of what the proposed $80 million would go towards, they leave out a whole list of items, such as:

  • Tuition assistance for people considering the police academy
  • A work study program to give people an opportunity to consider a career
  • Incentives for community policing
  • Incentives for expanded use of body cameras
  • Incentives for de-escalation training
  • Access to mental health services for police, corrections workers and other first responders
  • A signing bonus for new officers
  • State support for secondary road patrols
  • State support for recruiting strong candidates into the academies

All of these items listed are meant to convey the message that police are valued and that the government can provide incentives to provide more resources to the police. The financial incentives are offensive, since taxpayers already pay the salaries of police departments across the state. 

Then there is the matter of body cameras, while are generally seen as a form of accountability. However, there is plenty of evidence that body cams do not lead to more accountability and they are often a distraction in the much larger issue of what the real function of policing is in the US.

Incentives for community policing is just a a form of branding to suggest that cops will be more integrated into the community, when in fact, as police historian Kristian Williams has documented, community policing is another form of surveillance and tool of counter-insurgency. (See the book, Life During Wartime: Resisting Counterinsurgency)

Lastly, the notion that cops don’t have enough training is just plain not based in fact. Alex Vitale, author of the book, The End of Policing, documents that regardless of the type of training, whether it is racial sensitivity or de-escalation, it has no positive impact on how policing is done throughout the country.

The MLive article also does not tell us that the GOP legislators cited in the article have both received funding from various policing unions in Michigan, with Wentworth receiving $1,250 and Mueller receiving $800, according to the site No More Cop Money.

MLive also wrote:

House Democrats were critical of the plan, noting their caucus’ proposed budget amendments incorporating similar proposals were voted down by House Republicans this week.

However, the MLive article fails to mention that the Michigan Democrat who was arguing about their police funding plan, Rep. Donna Lasinski, has also been the recipient of police union funding, to the tune of $1,500. In fact, No More Cop Money makes it clear that police unions fund both Republicans and Democrats in Michigan. This is just one of the reasons why the Defund the Police movement does not trust that elected officials will easily respond to their demands, especially since they are taking money from police unions and crafting police policy simultaneously.

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