GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Since the murder of George Floyd at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer sparked a massive cry for change, 30 states have passed police reform laws since May 25, 2020—the day of Floyd’s death. Michigan is not among them.
Of those 30 states and D.C., 25 of them passed laws having to do specifically with three categories: use of force; duty for officers to intervene, report, or render medical aid in instances of police misconduct; or policies relating to law enforcement misconduct reporting and decertification. The Brennan Center is tracking the progress of police reform laws. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, Michigan has 11 currently pending bills on police reform—from discipline to training—working their way through Lansing.
One of them authored by District 39 Rep. Ryan Berman, House Bill 4525 would require all Michigan police cadets to receive at least their blue belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. The martial art mixes forms of grappling and holds.
“So then they don’t have to use excessive force,” said Representative Berman. “They don’t have to punch someone 15 times to submit.”
Berman says not many departments are looking into less-violent methods of subduing suspects, relying on old training that may be outdated.
“That stuff doesn’t really work; it doesn’t work in the field, and it doesn’t work on resisting suspects,” he said. Representative Berman says having the confidence to apprehend suspects in a less-violent manner will boost officer confidence in the field and cut down on instances of excessive and lethal force.
“It’s really to help them so these situations don’t happen, so they don’t use unnecessary force, and they will have more tools in their toolbox, if you will, to handle any situation that arises,” said Representative Berman.
READ MORE: Timeline of FOX 17's coverage of the Civil Unrest in Grand Rapids
READ MORE: Here's a breakdown of how much last year's civil unrest cost Grand Rapids
READ MORE: Last year’s ‘record-breaking’ global protests were effective in making change
READ MORE: Working to repair and heal Grand Rapids after civil unrest one year ago
READ MORE: Downtown GR businesses make strong comeback civil unrest
READ MORE: Collecting Pieces for Future Generations: GRPM preserves art from civil unrest