By JOSH THALL
Capitol News Service
LANSING — A new package of bills would result in higher speed limits on state roads across Michigan and fewer “speed traps” set by local police departments, if passed and signed into law. The bills are designed to set optimum speeds on state roadways by relying on driver behavior, road conditions and accident data, according to officials with the Michigan State Police and the Michigan Department of Transportation. The package would also restrict local governments from arbitrarily lowering speed limits on sections of roadway, supporters said. A similar proposal was introduced two years ago by Republican Sen. Rick Jones of Grand Ledge, a former county sheriff who supports the bills. “The Michigan State Police gave a presentation on how, for 40 years, speed limits have been set scientifically and it has been shown to be the safest speed,” Jones said.
By CHEYNA ROTH
Capital News Service
LANSING – Lots of young people in Michigan want to be State Police troopers, but almost all of them are white men. The State Police, like law enforcement agencies across the country, are struggling to recruit minorities into their ranks. “The minority population, many of them, it’s not in their culture to become a police officer,” said Col. Kriste Kibbey Etue, director of the State Police. “When you look out at hiring, I would say that actually we’re blessed that we still get a lot of candidates, but we want to make sure that our workforce is diverse, too.”
Officials are working to broaden their appeal by becoming more visible to young people with diverse backgrounds.
By CAITLIN McARTHUR
Capital News Service
LANSING — Michigan lawmakers want to make it harder for law enforcement agencies to take people’s stuff when they’re not charged with a crime. Legislators have introduced bills to reform the state’s “civil forfeiture laws,” which they and civil liberties advocates say encourage abuse by police agencies and infringe on citizen rights. Civil forfeiture law in Michigan allows police and prosecutors to confiscate a person’s car, property or money if they suspect it has been used in criminal activity — even if the owner is not charged with a crime. This is different from criminal forfeiture law, which requires the owner to be convicted in court before the asset can be seized. The money and proceeds from seized assets — $24 million in 2013 — go into agency budgets.
The Michigan State Police are moving from their newly built headquarters in downtown Lansing to the Secondary Complex near Dimondale, leaving office space open for the Department of Community Health and other state agencies to move into—saving millions of dollars for the state of Michigan. Now that the MSP is moving headquarters to the Secondary Complex in Dimondale, there is a massive $46 million building in downtown Lansing looking for occupancy. The Department of Community Health or DCH currently leases four different office space locations around downtown Lansing that will be dropped with no cost to the state, Sen. Rick Jones said, and the plan is to move the DCH and other agencies into the MSP headquarters according to Jones. Staff from the Farnum building in downtown Lansing, and from the state departments of Technology, Management, and Budget and Licensing and Regulatory Affairs will move from the Secondary Complex into the MSP headquarters building in downtown Lansing as well the Department of Insurance and Financial Services. “This relocation plan will help state agencies run more efficiently, and makes more sense than what we had before,” Department of Technology, Management, and Budget public information officer Caleb Buhs said.