police officer car stress

Officer well-being is among the issues addressed in the more than 700 policing bills introduced this year.

Policing Bills Address Officer Well-Being, Community Interaction and More

By Arthur Wagner and Zaak Barnes | April 11, 2022 | State Legislatures News | Print

Law enforcement policy remains a hot legislative topic in 2022, with more than 1,100 new measures addressing officer well-being, collaborative efforts to improve community interactions with law enforcement, limitations on police use of technology and more.

Many legislators have focused on law enforcement standards with bills requiring department adoption of standards or review of department policies, or establishing statewide standards or guidance for officer conduct or operations. The more than 350 bills introduced in this area require de-escalation, regulate the use of warrants and create a duty to intervene in cases where officers are using excessive force.

Over 150 bills pending nationwide address officer health and well-being. Several states have introduced legislation to increase protections for first responders. Ensuring that officers have access to peer support and both physical and mental health care is a priority.

States have also introduced nearly 200 bills addressing law enforcement labor and employment issues, including recruitment funding, tax breaks and incentives for retired officers to return to work.

Nearly half the states have enacted legislation so far this year. Actions from two states, Indiana and New Mexico, are detailed below.

Indiana

Indiana Senate Bill 294 restructures the Hoosier State’s Law Enforcement Training Board and requires it to establish statewide standards and training for use of deadly force, defensive tactics and vehicle pursuits. The new law also requires the board to set minimum standards for crowd control, protests and other First Amendment activities. Each of the new standards and those previously set by the board must be documented in writing and published online.

Senate Resolution 50 urges the legislative council to conduct a comprehensive review of issues related to the training and supervision of reserve officers.

Finally, Senate Bill 347 requires tribal agencies to contact every law enforcement agency that has previously employed candidates for hire to request information about employment history and discipline. Additionally, tribal officers are prohibited from exercising police power until they have successfully completed minimum basic training and educational requirements. The new law also requires tribal officers to be 21 years old and prohibits candidates with a felony conviction, in addition to any requirements determined by the tribes.

New Mexico

House Bill 68 requires use-of-force training for officers and prohibits the use of neck restraints.

The bill also splits the Law Enforcement Academy Board in two, creating an officer certification board tasked with granting, denying, suspending or revoking officer certification, and a separate officer training council to develop standards and training requirements.

New requirements cover basic and in-service training in crisis management and intervention, responding to people with mental health issues, de-escalation methods, peer-to-peer intervention, stress management, racial sensitivity and reality-based situational training.

The bill also increases penalties for aggravated fleeing from law enforcement and provides new funding for officer recruitment initiatives and crime reduction grants that can be used for the following reasons:

  • Developing or improving coordination of services between law enforcement agencies and treatment programs.
  • Establishing law enforcement crisis intervention teams.
  • Coordinating access to programs for transitional or reentry homes for people recently released from incarceration.
  • Recruiting or retaining law enforcement officers, prosecutors, public defenders, corrections officers and mental health workers.
  • Developing or expanding data-driven policing programs.
  • Staffing a criminal justice coordinating council.

For more details on the contents and status of these and other bills, be sure to check out NCSL’s Legislative Responses for Policing Bill Tracking Database. For a review of current state laws on policing topics, try the Law Enforcement Statutory Database, maintained with support from Arnold Ventures.

Arthur Wagner and Zaak Barnes work on NCSL’s policing team; Zaak focuses on employment policy, and Arthur covers criminal justice issues.

Additional Resources