Washington, DC —Prison Fellowship®, the nation's largest Christian nonprofit serving prisoners, former prisoners and their families, released the following statement after the United States House of Representatives passed the Law Enforcement De-escalation Training Act of 2022 (S. 4003 | H.R. 8637).
The bipartisan legislation was introduced by Senators John Cornyn (R-TX) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Representatives Karen Bass (D-CA), Darrell Issa (R-CA), David Trone (D-MD), and Steve Chabot (R-OH), to improve law enforcement training in de-escalation, alternatives to use of force, and mental and behavioral health. The bill now awaits President Biden’s signature to become law.
“For over 45 years, Prison Fellowship has witnessed how treating every person with dignity and respect can transform lives and communities,” said James Ackerman, President and CEO of Prison Fellowship. “Effective training provides officers with the tools they need to protect and serve their neighbors. We applaud the leadership of Senator Cornyn and the rest of the bill’s sponsors in their work to get this important legislation to the President’s desk.”
“Police officers step up daily to respond to neighbors in crisis,” said Heather Rice-Minus, Executive Vice President of Strategic Initiatives at Prison Fellowship. “They deserve the very best training to better keep communities safe and avoid unnecessary harm. I commend the House of Representatives and our faith-based, law enforcement, and mental health partners for giving officers what they need to navigate complex situations.”
- 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 | H.R. 8637) 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, Salvation Army USA, National Association on Mental Illness, and National Association of Evangelicals.