LANSING, Mich. — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer proposed a $32 million investment in law enforcement across the state with the goal of improving retention, recruitment, training and solving violent crime.
“Right now, the job is extremely difficult," said Ken Grabowski, legislative director of the Police Officers Association of Michigan. "Very few people want it, and anybody that has it wants to get out of it, and recruitment is almost nil and retention is, as soon as somebody is eligible to retire, they're walking out the door.”
Matt Saxton, executive director of the Michigan Sheriff's Association agreed.
“I’m working for all 83 sheriffs here in Michigan there is not one sheriff that’s not looking to hire," Saxton said.
Law enforcement agencies have seen a significant thinning of their ranks over the last year. Nationwide retirements were up 45 percent between April 2020 and April of this year compared to 2019, according to the Police Executive Research Forum.
“It’s been difficult to find good men and women who want to do that job right now," Saxton said.
If approved by the legislature, the money, proposed last week, is meant to help specifically with paying for and retaining police officers in Michigan. It's part of a $75 million plan that uses federal money from the American Rescue Plan.
Local agencies are happy to see that move.
“It's a great step in the right direction. I can tell you that, after going through the last two years in law enforcement, it's a breath of fresh air to see that there's finally that realization that we need law enforcement, we need a better version of law enforcement," said Lansing Police Chief Ellery Sosebee.
The lion's share of the investment, $20 million, will go towards retention and recruitment, $4.5 million will go toward training, another $4.5 million is dedicated to offering behavioral health services to officers and other first responders like firefighters. The last $3 million will go toward hiring homicide detectives.
Sosebee said that the last pot of money is especially important because of a rise in violent crime here and around the state.
“It’s not unique to Lansing, but a national trend. The assaults that are occurring are now being done with a type of weapon and predominantly guns," he said. "So that's why we see more problems being solved by pushing that easy button and just taking it out with a weapon.”
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