Mich. AG Dana Nessel calls for change in handling police brutality cases

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel is calling on the federal government to do more to prevent cases like what we saw most recently in Minnesota with the death of George Floyd. She says there needs to be an immediate change in the way AG offices across the country are able to handle police brutality cases. And she's taking the first step forward in writing a letter to Congress. 

"It shouldn't take committing a murder in order for you to lose your license. We want to prevent that murder from ever happening in the first place. How you do that is you take all the little things that accrue who are seemingly smaller events over the course of time and say, maybe you need more training," she says. 

The state's top cop is encouraged by what happened Thursday as the Michigan State Senate passed legislation requiring minimum training standards for police officers, including implicit bias training, de-escalation techniques, mental health screenings and continuing education for law enforcement. That's on its way to the Senate.  

But now she says her office is going to be more transparent when it comes to ongoing cases involving police.  

"We are going to start posting our investigations and our reports right online so that the public-at-large can review our reports. And I'll have all the information on there - who was interviewed; what were the lab reports; what were the reports that were submitted by the police and the witnesses; and what did we apply so that if we made it to termination that a shooting was justified, why do we think that?"

If they charge an officer they want to put out as much information as they can. 

She also wrote a letter to Congress Thursday urging them to expand the violent crime control and enforcement act. 
"We are asking that Congress amend the act to allow a state AGs explicit authority to conduct a pattern of practice investigations into local police departments and their behavior. Typically what we have seen in the past that the Department of Justice is the legal entity that has the authority to do that. They go in and decide whether or not the patterns or practices of a department violate the public's civil rights."

The issue is Nessel says the department of justice hasn't done these types of investigations in the last few years. She wants the state attorney generals to be able to do it instead.

"If the DOJ isn't going to do it then allow state AGs to monitor the police departments in the states in which they were elected to serve. That would allow us to go in if we have repeated complaints about a particular police department, we go in and we make that analysis."

Nessel says a concern many police departments have is the cost of all of this training, but she counters the cost of lawsuits stemming from wrongdoings that could have been possibly prevented far outweighs the cost of training.