HOUSTON – A new law will provide millions of dollars to train Houston police officers in de-escalation tactics.
The bill was first introduced by Senator John Cornyn after the death of Houston native George Floyd prompted global cries to end police brutality.
The bill was signed into law on December 27, 2022.
The new law authorizes $124 million in grant funding over 4 years for police training in de-escalation tactics, especially when dealing with people suffering from mental health crises. The goal is to reduce the number of officer-involved deaths and retain experienced police.
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U.S. Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) met with Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, Houston Police Chief Troy Finner, and community leaders Tuesday at Houston City Hall to discuss Sen. Cornyn’s Law Enforcement De-Escalation Training Act.
“This is a tough job and recruiting is not easy because it is a dangerous job, can be a dangerous job,” Cornyn said. “And we want to keep our law enforcement officials who are on the job now. We want to keep them as long as we can.”
Sen. Cornyn participated in a roundtable discussion highlighting how the new law will help equip local and state law enforcement agencies with funding for specialized de-escalation training for officers and mental health professionals.
During the roundtable, Houston leaders also discussed how the Task Force on Police Reform appointed by Mayor Turner in 2020 has supported the Houston Police Department’s (HPD) increased de-escalation training efforts.
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In 2020, Sen. Cornyn and Mayor Turner met with Houston area leaders after George Floyd’s death where they sought solutions to improve the relationship between law enforcement and the communities they serve.
Input from that discussion was incorporated as Sen. Cornyn developed the Law Enforcement De-Escalation Training Act.
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The new law authorizes $124 million in federal grant funding over four years for expanded training to equip law enforcement officers and mental health professionals working with them in de-escalation tactics and alternatives to using of force.
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The U.S. Department of Justice is currently implementing the new law which directs the agency to first identify and develop de-escalation training curricula with input from law enforcement, mental health providers, civil rights and civil liberties organizations, and other community advocates.
Once the curricula are finalized, the grant funding will be made available to state and local law enforcement agencies to train their officers using the curricula.
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