If U.S. Rep. Steven Cohen (D-TN-09) has his way then police officers nationwide will undergo a series of sensitivity training seminars, according to proposed legislation he’s filed.
Race sensitivity training.
Ethnic bias sensitivity training.
Disability sensitivity training.
Police officers would also have to take sensitivity training on how to interact with new immigrants.
They would also have to learn how no to behave properly with different groups on a conscious level.
Police would also have to learn how to act on a sub-conscious level — whatever that means.
And if and when police use deadly force then state officials would have to adopt new laws mandating an independent prosecutor oversee matters.
But what is the process for selecting an independent prosecutor?
How can anyone know the prosecutor truly is independent?
Better yet, what, specifically, does Cohen mean when he asks for sensitivity training for police officers?
Unfortunately, no one in Cohen’s office returned The Tennessee Star’s requests for comment Monday.
Going by its formal name, the Police Training and Independent Review Act is Cohen’s response to police shootings in Missouri, Tennessee, South Carolina, and Maryland, among other places.
“Asking local prosecutors to investigate the same law enforcement officers with whom they work so closely is an inherent conflict of interest,” Cohen said in a press release.
“Even if the prosecutor does everything right, there is still a perception of unfairness. If we are serious about restoring a sense of trust between police and the communities they serve, we must remove this conflict immediately. We must also provide police with improved training to better help them protect us and protect themselves.”
If the legislation passes into law, the feds could deny federal law enforcement funding, by 20 percent, to states that don’t cooperate. This funding comes from the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant, according to the proposed law.
According to the JAG website, the program provides states with funds for law enforcement, prosecution, indigent defense and drug treatment and enforcement programs, among many other things.
Tennessee got $4.8 million for this fiscal year, according to JAG.
NAACP members have already endorsed the proposed legislation.
“The majority of law enforcement officers are hard-working men and women, whose concern for the safety of those they are charged with protecting and serving is often paramount, even when their own safety is on the line,” NAACP members said in a recent letter to Cohen.
“However, if and when even one of their colleagues engages in behavior that is seen as insensitive to the culture of a community, whether it be conscious or subconscious, the trust of the entire community can be, and will be, lost.”
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