Today, U.S. Representatives Tim Ryan (D-OH-13) and Anthony Gonzalez (R-OH-16), and Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Thom Tillis (R-NC) introduced the bipartisan, bicameral Law Enforcement Scenario-Based Training for Safety and De-Escalation Act of 2022.
The legislation would require the U.S. Department of Justice, through the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS), to create immersive, real-life, scenario-based training curriculum to address key issues raised by law enforcement officers and the communities they serve.
The curriculum would focus on improving community-police relations; officer safety and resilience; situational awareness; physical and emotional responses to stress; critical decision-making and problem-solving; de-escalation and use of force; and crisis intervention. The bill would also create a grant program to support public and private entities that train law enforcement officers using similar immersive curriculum.
"There is nothing more important than the safety of our law enforcement officers and the communities they serve. In Ohio and across the country, we have seen too many tragic confrontations between our police officers and community members--a problem that increased police training can help address," said Congressman Ryan. "We must ensure our law enforcement officers who are routinely put in dangerous situations are equipped with every de-escalation tool necessary to keep our communities safe. Every officer in this country--in departments large and small, rural and urban--should have access to immersive, real-life, scenario-based training to respond to incidents in a manner that saves lives and protects our community."
"Ensuring our law enforcement is equipped with the proper tools to respond to varying types of emergencies is critically important," said Congressman Gonzalez. "I am glad to lead this bipartisan, bicameral legislation that will develop a training curriculum to educate first responders which will increase safety for our officers and in our communities."
"We all want the same thing -- to feel safe in our communities. Most Ohio police departments are small and don't have the resources they need for the training that officers and community members need and deserve. This is an opportunity to bridge divides, to get out of partisan or ideological corners, and actually make policing work better and make our towns and neighborhoods safer," said Senator Brown.
"Our law enforcement officers risk their lives every single day to keep their communities safe, and they deserve training and resources that help them handle the most difficult situations," said Senator Tillis. "Our bipartisan legislation will help law enforcement receive training to de-escalate a host of crises, including those involving people with mental health or drug dependency issues. Improved training will result in improved safety for both law enforcement officers and the people they regularly interact with."
The NAACP, Fraternal Order of Police, and Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association have endorsed the legislation.
"The NAACP strongly supports the Law Enforcement Scenario-Based Training for Safety and De-Escalation Act. Training is essential to improve interactions and the long-term relationship of law enforcement with communities in which they operate," said Derrick Johnson, President and CEO of the NAACP. "We appreciate the hard work Senator Brown, Congressman Ryan, and others have put forth to ensure that officers are trained on the culture of the communities they are sworn to protect, particularly measures to de-escalate interactions and reduce bias. Although many officers are hard working men and women concerned with safety, if and when even one of their colleagues engages in unethical or problematic behavior, whether conscious or unconscious, trust of the entire community can and will be lost. Training enhancements are a critical response to improve the safety of Black communities."
"This training will not only better equip officers to ensure their own safety, but it will enhance their ability to serve and protect their communities by using current immersive technology to better prepare officers for real-life situations on the beat," said Patrick Yoes, National President of the Fraternal Order of Police. "Immersive training will improve officer safety, de-escalation techniques, and community-police relations."