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2023 Policing Policy Legislation in Review

States enacted laws addressing officer training, behavioral health and certification.

By Amber Widgery  |  May 1, 2024

U.S. states and territories enacted nearly 400 of the more than 2,200 policing policy bills introduced in 2023. Here is a summary of laws enacted in three main categories.

Certification and Decertification 

States addressed employment policy for law enforcement officers, with more than two dozen bills on officer certification and decertification.

Arkansas required law enforcement instructors to gain an additional certification on the recognition and management of certain health conditions, including concussion and dehydration. Kentucky set a minimum age of 21 for individuals to qualify for law enforcement certification, with basic training allowed at 20.

Montana specified that certification cannot be revoked solely because of a mental illness. Tennessee prohibited the certification of officers that have been decertified in another state. 

Nevada required candidates to submit an affidavit stating that they are not disqualified from serving as a peace officer; have not been discharged, disciplined or asked to resign from previous employment; and have not resigned during an investigation. The state’s certifying commission is required to search the National Decertification Index to ensure that candidates have not been decertified in another jurisdiction. The new law also mandates that law enforcement agencies notify the commission of officers charged with certain crimes or who have separated from employment during an investigation into misconduct. 

Both Colorado and Illinois enacted laws addressing the eligibility of immigrants seeking certification as law enforcement officers.

See Enhancing Law Enforcement Safety and Well-Being for additional 2023 officer employment trends.


Puerto Rico, Washington, D.C., and 31 states passed legislation about training requirements.

A significant trend included funding for training or reimbursement for academy training for new recruits. Alabama and Arizona each addressed reimbursement for training new officers. Louisiana created a fund to provide $5,000 incentive payments to newly employed officers who attain certification within one year of employment. 

Other topics addressed in new laws included training on use of force, physical and mental health conditions, cultural and racial bias, and interactions with an identified group of people such as domestic violence or sexual assault victims, children, non-English speakers and people with Alzheimer’s disease.

For example, Connecticut required the state officer training council to develop a training curriculum for officers regarding interactions with people who have mental or physical disabilities, and those with hearing impairment. Rhode Island established training to help officers identify and respond to people with cognitive and communication disabilities. West Virginia required training to assist officers in recognizing and interacting with people with autism spectrum disorder, Alzheimer’s disease or dementia.

Behavioral health has been a hot topic, with states requiring officers to be trained to respond to people in crisis, as well as recognize their colleagues’ or their own mental health challenges and needs. At least five states—Connecticut, Mississippi, Montana, Rhode Island, Texas—mandated crisis intervention team training. Indiana required the state training board to establish minimum standards for both basic and in-service training to address the mental health and wellness of officers. The bill also required the executive training program to cover officer wellness and suicide prevention.

Data Collection and Transparency 

Nearly every state introduced legislation to address data collection or transparency, with nearly 60 bills enacted.

States have addressed data collection specific to policing but have also been looking at it more broadly. For example, a Montana law created a state data warehouse and established a coordinating council to oversee the project with stated priorities for collecting data in 2024 and ’25.

Arkansas created a grant program to encourage the public safety department to analyze crime and arrest data to determine violent crime clearance rates. The department is then encouraged to identify which law enforcement agencies face the biggest challenges in combating violent crime and to provide technical assistance to those agencies to improve clearance rates based on analysis and research. 

Work on many of these topics continues in 2024, with just over 600 bills introduced across 33 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico. For more information on these bills, visit NCSL’s Policing Legislation Database. 

Amber Widgery is a program principal in NCSL’s Criminal and Civil Justice Program.

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