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January 02, 2023

Law Enforcement De-Escalation Training Act signed into law

Credit: DC News Now

WASHINGTON (DC News Now) — From the fall of 2021 to the fall of 2022, 23 people were shot and killed by police in the state of Maryland. 5 of them were experiencing a mental health crisis. A new law is looking to prevent that from happening.

Congressman Trone’s (D-Md.) bipartisan Law Enforcement De-Escalation Training Act was signed into law by President Joe Biden on December 27. The legislation will better equip law enforcement officers to respond to mental and behavioral health crises and connect folks with the right resources and services to address their needs.

“As our nation faces worsening mental health and addiction crises, it’s crucial that public safety officers are equipped with the proper tools to safely and effectively respond to folks in crisis. The Law Enforcement De-Escalation Training Act, now signed into law, is a great first step toward ensuring that those in crisis can get the support they need,” said Congressman David Trone, co-chair of the Bipartisan Addiction and Mental Health Task Force.

$70 million in grant funding would pay for more training for law enforcement and help agencies develop new curricula for their staff.

“I like the fact that it has the DOJ creating the curriculum for us, so it’s not additional work for us and it’s giving us funding to both compensate outside instructors and bring them in or take our officers to other areas to get them the training,” said Lt. Kevin Meyer of the Frederick Police Department.

Frederick City currently has a ‘crisis car’ that sends a car with mental health professionals and police officers to someone in the case of a mental health emergency, but FPD says this new law could expand on that.

Korey Shorb works for a sober living facility. He says many of his clients struggle with mental health issues, which are compounded by drug and alcohol use. He’s encouraged by the measure.

“You got a lot of people who have mental health issues, and they automatically either want to take them to jail, or they want to take him to the hospital and they don’t want to go to the hospital. I think it’s just important to educate them and teach them what it is and what it isn’t,” said Shorb.