Protect people by rooting out bad police officers

Bad cops, like unethical journalists, incompetent plumbers and dangerous snow plow drivers, are out there. There can be no question that is true.

The only difference, of course, is people with badges have guns and literally the power of life and death over the people they are sworn to protect and serve.

Ferreting out who these errant officers are is no easy task, either. They tend to flit from one location to the next, their records unknown as one department pushes them out and they land in the next.

It’s an old story and one, nationwide, that has ended in tragedy.

Now, however, the Michigan Legislature has approved and sent to Gov. Rick Snyder for review, a bill that is designed to stop this heinous process.

According to The Associated Press, the measure, sponsored by state Sen. Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge, would require police departments to maintain records about the circumstances surrounding an officer’s departure.

The bill also would require an officer seeking employment at another agency to sign a waiver allowing the agency to obtain records from law enforcement departments where the officer worked. The bill also protects agencies from lawsuits, AP reported.

Regrettably, the Police Officers Association of Michigan, a labor group representing law enforcement personnel, opposed the bill, citing, among other things, the potential for interference with the negotiation of disciplinary agreements with employers and will lead to more employees going to arbitration, according to AP.

Other opponents claimed the law was unneeded and would create additional paperwork.

It’s unclear at this writing if Snyder plans to sign it into law. We hope he does.

There can be no doubt that the vast majority of police officers are men and women of good character, trying to do the best they can under difficult circumstances.

That said, bad officers can do a lot of damage until they are caught. This bill seems like a reasonable attempt to do that.