AUGUSTA – Rep. Lori Gramlich, D-Old Orchard Beach, introduced a bill to strengthen law enforcement education and training standards before the Legislature’s Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee on May 7, 2021.

“Our law enforcement officers are responding to and encountering difficult and varied situations every day. This bill is about making sure they are prepared and have the best tools in their toolboxes so they can be safe and effective,” said Gramlich. “The world is vastly different from the days when my grandfather and uncle served the community as police officers. Our education and training standards need to keep up with the times for the sake of our women and men in uniform as well as the communities they serve.”

LD 1447 would require Maine’s basic law enforcement training and ongoing in-service training standards to include training on racial justice, implicit bias, substance use disorder and social issues for all law enforcement. It would also require at least an associate’s degree in criminal justice or a related field for certification as a law enforcement officer. Current law requires applicants under 21 years of age to have an associate’s degree or 60 credit hours of postsecondary education.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, at least 34 states require training or education on physical and mental health conditions, while at least 26 states mandate bias reduction training. A 2017 study showed that nearly one in five local law enforcement agencies in the nation required entry-level officers to have some college credits. The study found the biggest factor in educational requirements by local agencies was state-level standards.

The Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee will hold a work session on the bill in the coming weeks. Committee members will have the opportunity to propose amendments before voting on a recommendation to the full Legislature.

Gramlich is a longtime social worker who is currently serving her second term in the Maine House. She is a member of the Taxation Committee and the Environment and Natural Resources Committee.

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