For all the hubbub over police brutality, a Colorado House bill mandating specific training for police officers in how to handle suspects hasn't received much press.
Perhaps that's because it's nothing new for some agencies.
Adopted last legislative session, House Bill 15-1287 mandates that all full- and part-time officers and reserve officers be trained in holds and restraint, anti-bias training, community policing/community partnership training and de-escalation.
Two hours of training in each category will be required by July 1, 2017, according to the bill, and thereafter must be taught in a two-year cycle.
El Paso County Sheriff's Office spokesperson Jackie Kirby says training in those areas has been offered at the department every other year for a dozen years. "We've already been in compliance," she says.
According to the Colorado Peace Officers Standards and Training (POST) website, all classes must be two hours, and each agency has the responsibility to determine what curriculum is appropriate. Classes can be offered in a classroom setting or may include interactive, web-based training.
Colorado Springs Police Lt. Catherine Buckley says CSPD will provide training within the time required. De-escalation techniques and anti-biased policing will be offered in the first round of training for 2016, while holds and restraints will be taught in the second round. Community partnerships training is slated for early 2017.
Buckley, too, says the classes have been offered previously but now have been "formalized" to meet POST requirements.
Springs police have come under fire after Ryan Brown claimed racism in a hands-on traffic stop in March in which Officer David Nelson was described as escalating the situation, and after Officer Tyler Walker wasn't charged in a separate case in which he slammed a handcuffed Alexis Acker, 18, to the floor, breaking her front tooth in November 2013.
The bill added four non-law enforcement members to the POST board, increasing it from 20 to 24 members. The bill's fiscal notes say it carries a cost of $350,685 this fiscal year and $327,862 next fiscal year, largely because the bill requires adding POST personnel to evaluate academy curricula, oversee training programs and develop a recruitment program to create a diverse pool of applicants for the board and "expertise committees."
Local agencies, the fiscal note says, "will experience an increase in workload or costs to ensure that all peace officers participate in the additional annual in-service training."
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