From: The Honorable Gwen Moore
Bill: H.R. 5221
Cosponsors: Alma Adams, Karen Bass, Donald Beyer, Sanford Bishop, Corrine Brown, Kathy Castor, Yvette Clarke, William Lacy Clay, Emanuel Cleaver, James Clyburn, Elijah Cummings, Danny Davis, Susan Davis, Donna Edwards, Ruben Gallego, Raúl Grijalva,
Alcee Hastings, Eleanor Holmes Norton, Hakeem Jeffries, Eddie Bernice Johnson, Hank Johnson, Robin Kelly, Barbara Lee, John Lewis, Gregory Meeks, Donald Payne, Charles Rangel, Bobby Rush, Mark Takano, Bennie Thompson, Bonnie Watson Coleman
Endorsed by: LCCR, ACLU
I invite you to cosponsor the Preventing Tragedies Between Police and Communities Act of 2016 (H.R. 5221), which would require de-escalation training for police officers across the country. The bill would seek to implement these training requirements by
proposing a reduction to Byrne Jag funding for those jurisdictions that do not comply.
In the past, high profile police-involved shootings have shocked the nation and sparked a serious dialogue about the proper role of police engagement and force. Police-caused fatalities in the 24-hour news cycle have shed light on what seems to be just
the tip of an iceberg. According to data analyzed by The Washington Post, in 2015 police shot and killed 990 people in our country. There is little mystery that deep mistrust has existed for generations between law enforcement officers and members
of African American communities – especially in large urban centers across the country.
Unfortunately, law enforcement often spends time training on how and when force can be used, but can spend comparatively less time on techniques that could prevent or reduce the need for force in the first place. One survey found that recruits spent about
58 hours on how to use a firearm and 49 hours of “defensive tactics” compared to only 8 hours on techniques like de-escalation or crisis intervention. While I strongly believe that no officer leaves his or her house in the morning intending to cause any person
harm – I do believe that many situations could be properly and safely handled using these model techniques.
That is why I have introduced legislation to require de-escalation training, with the overarching focus on preserving life, in our police academies. Under this legislation, officers would be required to undergo effective training on certain de-escalation
tactics. Among other things, training would include non-lethal alternative methods of applying force, tactics to reduce the need for using force, and use of the lowest level of force possible to safely respond to an identified threat. Officers would also
be trained to identify and appropriately respond to individuals suffering from mental illness.
The bill also requires that states and localities set forth affirmative duties for police officers to use these tactics whenever possible – thereby increasing accountability of officers who use deadly force.
These de-escalation training principals draw from certain policy recommendations made by the Police Executive Research Forum. De-escalation training was also emphasized as an action item in the 21st Century Policing Task Force Report.
I am confident that better training on de-escalation tactics, with an emphasis on preserving human life, will help to shift a police culture that contributes to the deep distrust communities experience in this country. Please contact Erik Fawcett with my
staff at email@example.com if you would like to become a cosponsor or have any questions.
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