I have the honor and privilege of serving the policing profession as a Commissioner for the Michigan Commission on Law Enforcement Standards (an unpaid position). I represent the Michigan Association of Chiefs of Police and was appointed by both Governor Granholm and Governor Snyder. The Commission has a mission defined in state statute–develop and administer statewide standards for police officers’ employment and training.
It has been a great experience although a challenging one. It seems like it would be simple to determine who should be a police officer –good moral character, good physical condition, psychologically sound and have good reading and writing skills. Sounds about right–but like most things the devil is always in the details. For example, we had a case before us of an officer that was involved in a highly publicized case in which he committed perjury along with judge and the prosecutor. He pled to a lesser charge (we can only take a police officer’s license to practice for conviction of a felony–then it is automatic), and wanted to return to work as a police officer. And to my great surprise, his department wanted to take him back! The 17 member Commission had to make a decision whether his conduct showed that he did not have the good moral character to be a police officer. In a very close vote, the Commission let him return to policing. I was opposed and was disappointed that he was allowed to return. I strongly believe that officers must tell the truth above all–lying cannot be permitted. He argued that he did it to protect an informant which I found not credible–the informant was paid a percentage of the drug seizure and was named in all the court paperwork from the beginning. It is an example of what MCOLES does.
MCOLES also is charged with distributing money from a surcharge on traffic tickets that is designated for police training. Sadly, in times when training is needed the most, the money has disappeared–it has to be diverted to maintain the 19 member administrative staff or we would have no standard setting agency at all. The Michigan Legislature should take a hard look at what is best for such a critical service to Michigan communities and appropriate funds to maintain a basic service residents need.
MCOLES publishes a newsletter and I thought you might find it interesting.