BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - After the summer of 2016 put police conduct under the microscope in Louisiana, a Baton Rouge lawmaker is looking to tighten the training requirements for those who wear the badge.
Rep. Ted James, D-Baton Rouge, is sponsoring a bill this legislative session that would require full time law enforcement officers across the state to undergo 400 hours of basic training. They would then need to take 20 hours of training each year.
"It keeps our officers safe. It keeps those they encounter safe, and also it builds trust," said James.
James' bill also calls for an increased focus on things like de-escalation techniques, crisis intervention, and bias recognition. The president of the Baton Rouge Union of Police, Sgt. Bryan Taylor, says current BRPD training far exceeds the requirements in the bill.
"BRPD currently does a 20-week academy. That's 800 hours of basic training," Taylor said. "Currently, our department does countless hours of de escalation training."
Zachary Police Chief David McDavid says his department also already meets these standards. James says he would like the standards to apply to part time officers as well. However, more training can come with a big price tag. Smaller departments often rely on part time and resource officers to supplement their police force, meaning these new training requirements could put them in a budget pinch. In Plaquemine, Chief Kenny Payne says he is all for more training, but would like to see the state chip in to help cover the costs.
Even so, James says that is a cost they can't afford not to pay. "If it's a part time pilot, I want my part time pilot to have the same training as my full time," said James.