Clay, Cohen, Duckworth Team Up to Introduce Police Training and Independent Review Act of 2017
WASHINGTON, DC – More than two and a half years after the tragic death of Mike Brown in Ferguson, Missouri; and as the nation continues to struggle to address the dangerous gulf of mistrust between local law enforcement agencies and communities, Congressman Wm. Lacy Clay (D) Missouri, Congressman Steve Cohen (D) Tennessee, and Senator Tammy Duckworth (D) Illinois are teaming up to introduce the Police Training and Independent Review Act of 2017.
“In the wake of Ferguson, MO; Staten Island, NY; Cleveland, OH; Sanford, FL, St. Paul, MN; Memphis, TN; North Charleston, SC; Baltimore, MD; and far too many other communities…the urgent need to require all police officers to receive specialized sensitivity training to help them deescalate volatile situations remains an urgent public safety priority,” said Mr. Clay. “This bill would protect both police officers and the citizens they serve. I am proud to coauthor it with my good friend, Congressman Steve Cohen of Memphis, Tennessee and my bi-state colleague, Senator Tammy Duckworth of Illinois. Our legislation would require sensitivity training in the areas of race, ethnic bias, disabilities, and interactions with new immigrants. It would also establish incentives to encourage states to adopt new laws to require an independent prosecutor in all cases when police use deadly force. Our legislation incorporates key findings and recommendations from the Ferguson Commission.
The new legislation, which has already earned the support of 91 cosponsors, would require all local law enforcement agencies who receive full federal Byrne-JAG funding to ensure that enrollees at law enforcement academies receive sensitivity training on ethnic and racial bias, cultural diversity, and police interaction with the disabled, mentally ill, and new immigrants. Both new police academy candidates and active duty police officers would be required to complete the enhanced training on an annual basis.
The act would also incentivize states to adopt laws requiring independent investigations and prosecutions of law enforcement officers in cases where one or more of the alleged offenses involve an officer’s use of deadly force in the course of carrying out his or her official duties. That concept, which Congressman Clay first called for in the aftermath of the tragic death of Mike Brown in Ferguson, MO in 2014, would help repair the deep divisions of distrust that still persist in many urban communities between police officers and the citizens they are sworn to serve and protect.