House approves $368.5 million in support, needed resources for first responders
State Rep. Andrew Fink of Adams Township has voted in support of a plan to significantly bolster support for Michigan’s law enforcement and public safety personnel – giving them the needed resources to better protect the people they serve.
The bipartisan-approved measures include $368.5 million in funding and policy reforms to help first responders with recruitment and retention efforts, community outreach and equipment upgrades.
“Communities across Michigan are suffering because of the challenges police departments and public safety offices are facing in hiring and retaining law enforcement officers,” Fink said. “This plan will ensure that they are provided with the resources they need to be fully staffed – making our neighborhoods and communities a safer place for families.”
The supplemental appropriation is funded by one-time federal COVID relief and surplus state resources.
The updated plan is an even greater investment beyond the $80 million plan the House approved in May and the $250 million plan House Republicans unveiled last month. In the wake of the tragic school shooting in Oxford, it adds even more funding for school resource officers to work proactively with students and give parents more peace of mind when sending their kids to school each day.
The revised plan adds more support for firefighters and EMS personnel, while maintaining its focus on public safety recruitment and retention, community outreach and equipment upgrades. A special focus is on recruiting law enforcement officers now working in other states to Michigan.
Pillars of the House plan include:
Recruitment and retention: The initiative includes $57.5 million for a ‘Move to Michigan’ recruitment plan to help attract officers now working in other states. The plan ensures officers moving to Michigan will keep retirement benefits they’ve already earned in other states. Tuition assistance and grants to help offset expenses will make attending a police academy a more practical, affordable and possible option for local law enforcement and corrections officer candidates. Local departments will also be eligible to receive grants to offer job shadowing and signing bonuses to new hires. Local law enforcement, fire departments, EMS agencies and corrections departments would get recruitment marketing support.
Public safety personnel who miss work because of COVID-19 quarantine could be reimbursed for lost wages and leave time. An additional $7.5 million would support mental health assistance for local law enforcement, firefighters, EMS personnel and other public safety officers.
Policy changes will allow local law enforcement agencies to pay for a new recruit’s academy tuition and enter a five-year employment contract with them. If the recruit leaves within that period they would be required to reimburse the agency for a portion of the training costs based on the amount of time spent with the department after their training is complete.
Other reforms expand the pool of qualified recruits, remove hurdles for returning officers and provide resources for part-time public service assistant positions to perform routine law enforcement tasks.
Strengthening bonds in neighborhoods and schools: The plan provides $10 million in grants for community policing initiatives shown to improve relationships between officers and people in the neighborhoods they serve. The mix of community policing and mentorship that make the Police Athletic League so successful in Detroit would be expanded to other communities with a $15 million investment.
Supplying essential equipment: More resources would be available for body-worn cameras and gear, narcotics team gear, communications equipment upgrades, local police K-9 units, and other essentials.
The plan now advances to the Senate for further consideration.
The Michigan House of Representatives has approved Rep. Fink’s plan to overhaul operations within the state’s Unemployment Insurance Agency (UIA) after it paid out billions of dollars to fraudulent applicants and failed an independent performance audit.