News Story

Backed By Police Unions in 2018, Whitmer Silent On Police Union Reforms

Police collective bargaining contracts implicated in departments’ failure to dismiss bad actors

In the newly heightened national debate over police reform, three police chiefs have made public statements about how union contracts protect problem police officers.

Two of those police chiefs were from Michigan. Dan Oates is a former Ann Arbor police chief and Isaiah McKinnon is a former chief of the Detroit police department.

A report released by a national association in August pointed to police unions as a major obstacle to reform. The U.S. Conference of Mayors report said that police union contracts create obstacles to removing bad officers.

The three police chiefs, including Oates and McKinnon, all said that union contract provisions make it difficult to remove problem police officers from the force.

Yet press releases on police reform issued by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer have been silent on police union contracts.

Michigan Capitol Confidential reviewed the three public statements Whitmer has made on police reform since George Floyd died in police custody on May 25 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

On June 3, a press release from the governor listed four actions she was taking related to police reform. None were related to police union contracts.

On June 29, Whitmer issued a statement to the press listing eight policy reforms and five other actions, none of which were related to police unions.

On Aug. 14, Whitmer issued a press release about appointments she made to the Michigan Commission on Law Enforcement Standards. This is the entity that oversees licensure and training for officers and agencies statewide.

Whitmer’s efforts have revolved around proposals such as mandatory training on implicit bias, de-escalation techniques, restricting no-knock warrants and limiting vehicle pursuits.

Whitmer has also stated, on her election campaign website, that she had been endorsed for election in 2018 by the Michigan Association of Police Organizations, the Michigan Fraternal Order of Police and the Deputy Sheriffs’ Association of Michigan.