Michigan Senate votes to keep police from hiding misconduct

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LANSING, Mich. (AP) — The Michigan Senate unanimously approved a bill Thursday that supporters said would ensure police misconduct is not kept secret if an officer leaves and takes a new job at another department.

The legislation , which was sent to the House for consideration, would require law enforcement agencies to keep records of the reasons for and circumstances surrounding any officer’s employment separation. The officer would have to sign a waiver allowing a prospective employer to ask for a copy of the records.

The department could not hire the officer unless it receives the records.

The bill’s sponsor, Republican Sen. Rick Jones of Grand Ledge, said many law enforcement agencies provide limited information to other agencies looking to hire their former officers.

“We need to have departments maintain all records if somebody resigns,” said Jones, a former sheriff.

He introduced the legislation after he said an Eaton County deputy who was accused of making an abusive and improper traffic arrest resigned and quickly landed a similar job in Lenawee County.

“What this does is make sure we don’t have what’s been known nationally as a ‘gypsy cop’ hopping from department to department,” said Jones, who added that “99.9 percent” of officers “are the finest people in the world, but once in a while you get a bad apple.”

Under the bill, agencies would be required to let a separating officer review the separation record and to submit a written statement explaining the officer’s disagreement. The former employer would have to give a copy of the records to a prospective employer upon receiving a waiver.

The agency also would be immune from civil liability for disclosing the records in good faith.
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