Sen. Gary Peters has introduced a bill he hopes will help overhaul the justice system by creating a National Criminal Justice Commission.
The bill has bipartisan support — Republican Sens. Lindsey Graham and John Cornyn, have spoken out in favor of the legislation. The Police Officers Association of Michigan also endorsed proposition.
“Recent incidents, like the traffic stop of Floyd Dent in Inkster (Michigan), and civil unrest in areas like Baltimore and Ferguson, Missouri, have highlighted the need ... for an evaluation of our criminal justice system,” Peters, a Democrat senator from Michigan, said. “With a troubling rise in tensions between police and civilians in communities in Michigan and across the country ... it is clear that an overhaul of our justice system is long overdue.”
Congress and the president would appoint 14 experts in law enforcement, victims rights, social services and civil liberties and they would have 18 months to issue recommendations to improve the criminal justice system on a national, state and local level and offer ways to mend relationships between police and the communities they’re supposed to protect.
“In too many instances, the line police officer is forgotten about in the making of decisions for the law enforcement community. But, when things go bad, it's the line officer who first gets blamed. It is time for a major review,” said the Police Officers Association of Michigan’s Legislative Director Kenneth E. Grabowski.
Michigan Fraternal Order of Police State President J.P. Sadowski echoed the sentiment and offered his support. “The Michigan Fraternal Order of Police supports Senator Peters’ legislation that would create a National Commission on Law Enforcement ... to make recommendations that will improve policing, the administration of justice and our nation’s criminal justice system as a whole,” he told The Detroit News.
Peters believes the recent events in Baltimore will give his bill momentum. Baltimore saw protests and riots at the end of April following the death of Freddie Gray in police custody. "More and more Americans realize that something does not seem to be working right, when they turn on their TV and they see what has been happening around the country," Peters said. "So I think the time is right."
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