DETROIT – After announcing her plan to reform policing in Michigan, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said the conversation around the topic isn’t over, revising her stance on the movement to defund the police.
“I don’t support defunding the police. What I do support is funding communities and where perhaps the cost will be going out to a social worker, as opposed to a policing organization that making that investment is something that helps everyone,” she said in an interview Monday afternoon. Whitmer had previously said she “supported the spirit” of defunding the police.
Her plan calls for increased investment in police training and in the communities police departments serve. Broken down in four parts, the plan includes banning chokeholds, requiring reporting from police departments about improper use of force and independent investigations of incidents of police killings.
“We want to get this right and it is incumbent on all of us to put together a plan that is workable and that will make a difference,” Whitmer said. She added the group working on the plan was made of both activists and law enforcement, led by Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist.
The plan also calls for more social work-like training and investment in communities including incentives for officers to live in the communities they police. In Detroit, that number is staggeringly low just 1 in 4 officers lives within city limits, according to a 2018 analysis.
But critical demands from protestors were left off the list including ending immunity for officers and curbing facial recognition, which protestors in Detroit have called to end. The governors of Washington and California have also moved to curb and ban the use of recognition software by law enforcement, respectively.
The governor defended her plan saying it’s only a first step.
“This is where we thought the first big steps could be taken. Doesn’t mean that we’ve cut off conversation on other issues. Just means this is where we think we can make some change now.”