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Sunday, March 26th, 2023

U.S. Senate passes police training bill

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A pair of lawmakers are commending Senate passage of a measure enhancing law enforcement training for those interacting with individuals with mental health, behavioral health and substance use issues.

Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and John Cornyn (R-TX) joined 19 colleagues in co-sponsoring the Law Enforcement De-escalation Training Act

“Police officers serve on the frontlines in their communities, and we must ensure they have the training to handle situations involving complex mental and behavioral health issues safely and with compassion,” Whitehouse, a senior member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said. “This robust training can boost public safety and prevent the kinds of encounters that too often lead to tragedy. I’m grateful to Sen. Cornyn for his partnership, and I urge the House to take up this important bill that will save lives in communities across the country.”

The bill requires the Department of Justice’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services to develop curricula in the training topics, or identify existing curricula, in consultation with law enforcement, mental health organizations, family advocacy organizations, and civil rights and civil liberties groups. Further, it authorizes $124 million in grant funding over four years for training and requires the National Institute of Justice and the Government Accountability Office to evaluate the implementation of the program and the effect of the training to ensure the curricula have a tangible impact on law enforcement encounters with people in crisis.

“By providing funding for law enforcement agencies to train their officers in de-escalation tactics, this bill will give law enforcement better tools to support those experiencing mental health crises,” Cornyn said. “I applaud the Senate for moving this legislation forward and urge my colleagues in the House to do the same.”