How the Law Enforcement De-Escalation Training Act will Impact Police Officers

A summary of the de-escalation training act and how it will impact your local police department.

Larry Smith
February 23, 2023

If you haven't heard, on December 27, 2022, the Law Enforcement De-Escalation Training Act became a public law. The Law Enforcement De-Escalation Training Act directs the Department of Justice (DOJ) to develop scenario-based training curricula (or identify existing curricula) that include topics such as alternatives to the use of force, de-escalation tactics and safely responding to an individual experiencing a mental, behavioral health, or suicidal crisis.

Definition of De-Escalation

According to Congress, the term `de-escalation' means taking action or communicating verbally or non-verbally during a potential force encounter in an attempt to stabilize the situation and reduce the immediacy of the threat so that more time, options, and resources can be called upon to resolve the situation without the use of force or with a reduction in the force necessary.

Law Enforcement De-Escalation Training Act Timeline

The Law Enforcement De-Escalation Training Act was introduced in the Senate on April 5th, 2022 by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse and Senator John Cornyn to to help law enforcement respond more effectively to people suffering mental or behavioral health crises. The senators’ bill would improve training for police officers interacting with individuals dealing with mental or behavioral health issues, including using alternatives to force and de-escalation tactics and working with mental health professionals on crisis intervention teams. It would also empower police and the mental health professionals working with them to link individuals to mental and behavioral health services in their community.

12/27/2022 Became Public Law No: 117-325.

12/27/2022 Signed by President.

12/23/2022 Presented to President.

12/14/2022 Passed/agreed to in House: On passage Passed by the Yeas and Nays: 264 - 162 (Roll no. 525).

11/29/2022 Failed of passage/not agreed to in House: On motion to suspend the rules and pass the bill Failed by the Yeas and Nays: (2/3 required): 247 - 160, 1 Present (Roll no. 486).

08/01/2022 Passed/agreed to in Senate: Passed Senate with an amendment by Unanimous Consent.(text of amendment in the nature of a substitute: CR S3832-3835)

06/14/2022 Committee on the Judiciary. Reported by Senator Durbin with an amendment in the nature of a substitute. Without written report.

04/05/2022 Introduced in Senate

Statement from the White House on the Law Enforcement De-Escalation Training Act

In a statement released from the Executive Office of the President on December 13, 2022: The Administration strongly supports House passage of S. 4003, the bipartisan Law Enforcement De-Escalation Training Act of 2022. This legislation would authorize $34 million over four years for the Department of Justice’s Office of Community-Oriented Policing Services to support the establishment, certification, and implementation of training for law enforcement officers and mental health professionals on crisis intervention teams. This training would include: (1) de-escalation tactics and alternatives to the use of force; (2) approaches to safely respond to people with disabilities or people in crisis; (3) strategies for participating successfully on crisis intervention teams; and (4) referrals to community-based supportive services, including housing, public benefits, and behavioral health. The legislation would further authorize $90 million over two years for the Department’s Byrne Justice Assistance Grant program to support related training programs and continuing education for law enforcement and mental health professionals and to cover costs associated with participation in the National Use-of-Force Data Collection. Because advancing effective, accountable policing builds public trust and strengthens public safety, the Administration calls for swift passage of this common-sense bipartisan legislation.

Law Enforcement De-Escalation Training Act Cost Estimate

According to the Congressional Budget Office, S. 4003 (Law Enforcement De-Escalation Training Act) would authorize the appropriation of $124 million over the 2023-2027 period to provide de‑escalation training for law enforcement personnel. CBO estimates that enacting S. 4003 would not affect direct spending or revenues. CBO estimates that implementing the legislation would cost $53 million over the 2023-2027 period; any spending would be subject to the availability of appropriated funds. The legislation contains no intergovernmental or private-sector mandates as defined in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act.

Statements by Senate Members on the Law Enforcement De-Escalation Training Act

“Too often, police respond when someone is suffering a mental health or behavioral health issue, yet lack the resources they need to do so effectively. We can save lives by equipping officers to recognize and respond appropriately to those situations, to work with mental health professionals, and connect people to treatment,” said Senator Whitehouse. “I’m pleased to join with Senator Cornyn on this important bill.”

“We ask law enforcement in our communities to wear too many hats, including that of mental health provider, and they often do not have enough resources or training to provide the level of care individuals in crisis need,” said Senator Cornyn. “We must give them the necessary tools so officers feel supported while helping those experiencing mental health emergencies and other crises, and this legislation would do just that.”

“Our law enforcement often has to make up for the deficiencies of our mental health system,” said Dr. Cassidy. “Let’s give law enforcement the tools and training they need for their safety and for those in the midst of a mental health crisis.”

“As the first ones on the scene, America’s law enforcement officers must be ready to respond to crises of all types. Equipping them with the necessary training and resources to ensure they can do their jobs and keep our communities safe is just plain common sense. I have been calling for this type of reform for years, and I am glad to be a part of this bipartisan group working to finally make it happen,” said Senator Scott.

How the Law Enforcement De-Escalation Training Act Provides Additional Mental Health Resources to Police Officers

The Law Enforcement De-Escalation Training Act would require the Department of Justice to work with experts to develop comprehensive trainings on de-escalation tactics, alternatives to use of force, safely responding to mental, behavioral, and suicidal crises, successfully participating on a crisis intervention team, and making referrals to community-based mental and behavioral health services and support and other social programs.  The bill would also build off the existing Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant program to create a dedicated stream of funding for local and state law enforcement agencies to access these trainings and train their officers and the mental health professionals who work with them.

The bipartisan Law Enforcement De-escalation Training Act is designed to:

  • Require the Department of Justice’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services to develop curricula in the training topics, or identify existing curricula, in consultation with law enforcement, mental health organizations, family advocacy organizations, and civil rights and civil liberties groups, among other stakeholders;
  • Authorize $124 million in grant funding over four years for training, including scenario-based exercises and evaluative assessments;
  • And require the National Institute of Justice and the Government Accountability Office to evaluate the implementation of the program and the effect of the training, to ensure that the curricula have a tangible impact on law enforcement encounters with people in crisis, and identify possible changes that would further improve outcomes.

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Larry Smith

Larry Smith is a journalist focused on policing, public safety, and venture capital.