Sending Office: Honorable Gwen Moore
Deadline: Noon on Wednesday, May 22.
I invite you to cosponsor the Preventing Tragedies between Police and Communities Act, legislation which would implement recommendations of experts and require annual de-escalation training for police officers across the country.
High profile police-involved shootings have shocked the nation and sparked a serious dialogue about the proper role of police engagement and use of deadly force. Unfortunately, law enforcement departments spend little to no mandatory time teaching officers
techniques that could prevent or reduce the need for fatal force against persons in crises. One survey found that police recruits spent about 58 hours on how to use a firearm and 49 hours of “defensive tactics” compared to only 8 (often voluntary) hours on
techniques like de-escalation or crisis intervention.
That is why I have again introduced legislation to require de-escalation training in our police academies, with the overarching focus on preserving life. Under this legislation, officers would be required to undergo effective training on methods such as
non-lethal alternatives to deadly force and tactics that use the lowest level of force possible to safely respond to a perceived threat. Officers would also be trained to identify and appropriately respond to individuals experiencing a mental health crisis
or with mental health conditions. The bill would incentivize state and local police agencies to adopt these strong training requirements by proposing a reduction in Byrne Jag funding for those jurisdictions that do not comply.
The bill also requires that states and localities set affirmative duties for police officers to use non-lethal de-escalation tactics whenever possible.
The provisions in this bill are taken from policy recommendations made by the Police Executive Research Forum, an independent research organization that focuses on critical issues in policing. De-escalation training was also emphasized as an action item
in the 21st Century Policing Task Force Report. Here are some articles on efforts some police departments are taking towards this goal:
Portland Oregon, and
Fort Worth Texas, among others. Yet, the provision of adequate training in use of non-lethal responses by police is still more the exception rather than the rule as noted by this
article which cited cost, lack of staff, and a belief that the training isn’t needed as reasons why this commonsense and needed training is not happening more broadly.
I am confident that better training on de-escalation tactics, with an emphasis on using non-lethal force and proven best practices, will help to heal and improve the deep distrust between policy and communities in our country. By strengthening the tools
available to police officers to help keep our communities safe, we can also help avoid needless tragedies that undermine community trust and make their jobs harder. Please contact Talia Rosen on my staff at
firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to become a cosponsor or have any questions. The deadline for original cosponsorship is 12:00 PM this Wednesday, May 22, 2019.
Gwen S. Moore
MEMBER OF CONGRESS
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