As one of its final acts in the lame duck session, the 117th Congress Wednesday evening passed the bipartisan Law Enforcement De-Escalation Training Act.
The goal of the legislation is to reduce police-involved fatalities. One of its House sponsors, Rep. Annie Kuster (D-NH), said it will equip law enforcement officers with the tools to effectively and safely respond to people in crisis by creating a stream of funding to train officers and mental health professionals to work with de-escalation tactics.
Sponsors in the upper chamber included Senators Tim Scott (R-SC), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and John Cornyn (R-TX).
“By giving law enforcement the tools they need to help those experiencing mental health emergencies and other crises, we can help make communities safer by building a stronger bridge between the criminal justice system and mental health care,” Cornyn said in a statement late Wednesday.
Within its language the bill requires the DOJ’S Office of Community Oriented Policing Services to develop training curricula, and it authorizes $70 million in annual grant funding for training, including scenario-based exercises and evaluative assessments.
The American Psychological Association and National Alliance on Mental Illness are listed among numerous organizations that have endorsed the legislation.
The bill next heads to President Biden’s desk for signing.