MI bill targets loophole allowing felons into police academies


LANSING, Mich. (WOOD) — Felons are being accepted into Michigan police academies and receiving weapons training because of a loophole, according to Republican Sen. Rick Jones of Grand Ledge.

Jones has created a bill to close the loophole by improving background checks for police academy applicants.

“We can’t let felons get in there and that’s exactly what has happened in the past,” he said.

Senate Bill 524 would required nationwide FBI background checks and fingerprinting for anyone applying to a Michigan police academy.

“Currently in Michigan that’s not happening,” said Jones.

Right now, law enforcement academy applicants undergo a statewide background check, but that’s it.

Former Flint officer Jermain Reese, who is now a professor of criminal justice at Grand Rapids Community College, says he fully supports the proposed change.

“We wouldn’t have to rely on students to disclose every police interaction,” he said. “I think it’s a great idea. We should have done it sooner, but we’re here now.”

Reese thinks some checking may have been lost when police departments transitioned from housing their own police academies to using community colleges.

The Michigan Commission on Law Enforcement Standards adds that changes at the federal level limited access to full background checks.

“That is alarming because they (police academy cadets) do receive firearm training,” pointed out Reese.

“Why would you take a felon and train them how to handle a gun better and train them on police techniques?” Jones questioned.

SB 524 has passed the Senate and is awaiting a hearing before the House Committee on Judiciary.