Resisting and Obstructing Policy
Policy 2021-04: Resisting and Obstructing Policy
Law enforcement officers hold positions of particular trust. Law enforcement officers—acting on behalf of the government—have authority to arrest a person, to use force, and to investigate wrongdoing. For many people, an interaction with police represents the most direct (and most visceral) reminder of the power the government maintains over our lives.
At the same time, law enforcement officers have a trying—and dangerous—job. They deserve the ability to complete their duties without unnecessary interference, and without the threat of harm. And public safety demands no less. For these reasons, “resisting and obstructing” a police officer is a criminal act in the State of Michigan.
It is the policy of the Washtenaw County Prosecutor’s Office to file resisting-and-obstructing charges where they are appropriate. At the same time, the Prosecutor’s Office cannot ignore the recent national spate of high-profile incidents from across the country involving police officers who abused their positions of authority.
Our community deserves to know that any resisting-and-obstructing charges are supported by the facts. More, our community deserves to know that such charges will be filed only where a civilian engaged in affirmative conduct to obstruct or assault a police officer—not where an officer escalated a situation, or where there was simply a tense interaction between officers and civilians. At the same time, our law-enforcement personnel deserve to know that when a resisting-and-obstructing charge is filed, the Prosecutor’s Office has every confidence that the case is supported by the evidence, and is in the interest of justice.
Accordingly, it is the policy of the Prosecutor’s Office to review all relevant materials (including any available video evidence) before authorizing resisting-and-obstructing charges. It is also the policy of the Prosecutor’s Office to consider the totality of the circumstances before any such charges are authorized.