MICHIGAN, USA — Following the death of 29-year-old Tyre Nichols after a Jan. 7 traffic stop in Memphis, Tennessee, officials across the nation have begun to again call for widespread policy reform when it comes to holding officers accountable for misconduct.
In Michigan, the state's top law enforcement officer, Attorney General Dana Nessel, joined a chorus of officials over the weekend in calling for reforms following the Jan. 27 release of footage from the Memphis officers' body cameras showing them beating Nichols.
Nessel told 13 ON YOUR SIDE that, in her years working with law enforcement, she had never seen anything like what she saw in the footage from Memphis.
"I mean, it was horrific," Nessel said. "There's really no other way to categorize it."
In Nessel's view, the state's current system of accountability for law enforcement officers who abuse their station is not as strong as it needs to be.
"It can be very, very difficult to get rid of a police officer who is violating the public trust," Nessel said.
For context, Nessel made mention of the current scenarios under which the Michigan Commission on Law Enforcement Standards (MCOLES) can and cannot revoke officers' licenses in the event of misconduct claims.
Under current policy, MCOLES can only revoke licenses if officers have committed fraud or made false statements to obtain them or if the officers are convicted of certain criminal charges.
Nessel, however, said she believes, in order to ensure more accountability, MCOLES should have broader authority to investigate instances of potential misconduct and rescind licenses when necessary.
"If we just put more money into MCOLES and said, 'You can do your own investigations, and we're going to give you the money to do that and then you can have your own hearings with due process,' then that would be a way to tackle, I think, really poor policing," Nessel said.
Nessel also mentioned her department encouraging law enforcement departments to seek state accreditation, meaning they have kept pace with updated trainings and other aspects to ensure the implementation of premier procedures and protocols.
While Nessel's department can encourage accreditation, any additional policy changes to and investment in entities like MCOLES would require action from the state legislature.
As of Jan. 30, no legislation for law enforcement reform had yet been introduced in Michigan in the wake of Nichols' death.
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