Tennessee law enforcement will soon have to receive more training in de-escalation and community-oriented policing techniques.
Governor Bill Lee announced the measure this afternoon. It follows weeks of protests against police brutality and systemic racism, including calls to slash police funding or eliminate departments altogether. But Lee says those ideas are non-starters.
“There is a vast difference between meaningful reform and meaningless attempts to ‘defund the police’ or any other unrealistic approach that misses the mark on both advancing justice and strengthening interactions with the communities they serve,” Lee said at a Thursday press conference.
The additional training is backed by state and local law enforcement agencies. Those include the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, Tennessee Association of Chiefs of Police and the Peace Officer Standards & Training Commission, which oversees training.
It would mean that new officers would get an additional 88 hours of training, including hands-on scenarios. (The previous requirement was a total of 400 hours.)
All officers would have to take eight hours of training per year specific to de-escalation, the duty to intervene, interacting with public assemblies and positive relationships with the community.
Law enforcement agencies have also agreed to update their use-of-force policies to ban chokehold restraints and to make clear that officers must step in if they see a colleague use excessive force. Metro Nashville Police announced last month it would take both those steps.
And agencies have agreed to make more use of a national database that tracks officers who have been decertified or lost their licenses for misconduct.