Prison Fellowship®, the nation’s largest Christian nonprofit serving prisoners, former prisoners, and their families, released the following statement after the United States Senate passed the Law Enforcement De-escalation Training Act of 2022, bipartisan legislation introduced by Senators John Cornyn (R-TX) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), to improve law enforcement training in de-escalation tactics, alternatives to use of force, and mental and behavioral health.
"Prison Fellowship has spent more than 45 years walking with the people, families, and communities touched by incarceration," said James Ackerman, President and CEO of Prison Fellowship. "Every day, correctional officers and police step up to fill an irreplaceable role in the community. They deserve clear and effective training. We urge House lawmakers to promptly take up this important bill."
"Trust between law enforcement and the communities they protect and serve is essential to safe and flourishing neighborhoods," said Heather Rice-Minus, Executive Vice President of Strategic Initiatives at Prison Fellowship. "By increasing access to training that will improve safety, this legislation takes an important step toward a system that protects communities and police from harm while promoting respect, dignity, and cooperation. We encourage the House of Representatives to build on the leadership of Senators Cornyn and Whitehouse and quickly pass this legislation."
- Police officers respond every day to calls for service for men and women with significant mental and behavioral health challenges. However, many officers do not receive consistent training to effectively address these situations. Inadequate training can undermine law enforcement officers’ well-being and heighten incidents of excessive use of force.
- The Law Enforcement De-escalation Training Act (S. 4003) would create a new federal funding stream to provide training for law enforcement officers on de-escalation techniques, participation in crisis intervention teams, making referrals to community-based service providers, safely responding to individuals in a behavioral or mental health crisis, and alternatives to use of force. The Department of Justice would develop training curriculum in collaboration with mental health providers, law enforcement agencies, civil rights organizations, and other stakeholders.
- The bill would advance transparency and accountability to best practices through strong reporting and evaluation requirements. Through a “train the trainer” model, the bill positions law enforcement officers to be catalysts for improving the work of their peers.
- The bill is supported by a range of organizations, including Prison Fellowship, National Criminal Justice Association, Major Cities Chiefs Association, Major Counties Sheriffs Association, Right on Crime, Fraternal Order of Police, Catholic Charities USA, Faith and Freedom Coalition, National Association on Mental Illness, and National Association of Evangelicals.