Law enforcement reform bill advances with bipartisan support

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A bipartisan bill aimed at increasing police accountability and enacting criminal justice reform advanced to the Indiana Senate after lawmakers unanimously approved the measure in a House vote Tuesday.

House Bill 1006, co-authored by more than 80 Republican and Democratic legislators, includes provisions for mandatory de-escalation training, misdemeanor penalties for officers who turn off body cameras with intent to conceal, and bans on chokeholds in certain circumstances.

If adopted, the bill will also establish a procedure for the law enforcement training board to decertify officers who commit misconduct and would ease the sharing of officers’ employment records between police departments, thus helping to identify “bad actors” and keep them from moving from job to job.

Lawmakers additionally added $70 million to the measure in committee to help the Indiana Law Enforcement Academy implement the changes made necessary by the bill.

“It is encouraging, with so much division today, that there is something that we all seem to agree on,” Democratic Rep. Vernon G. Smith said in a statement Tuesday. “I am glad our colleagues across the aisle have joined us in this next step.”

The draft legislation is inspired by the Indiana Black Legislative Caucus’ proposed package of police accountability and criminal justice reforms released over the summer after protests against racial injustice and police brutality spurred by the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody.

The caucus agenda during this Legislative session includes 36 proposed bills, including those that would legalize marijuana, create a database of police misconduct, provide more specificity to Indiana’s hate crime laws, and make it easier for drivers to reinstate suspended licenses.

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