NC House Approves Series of Law Enforcement Reform Bills
Updated: May 6, 2021
Raleigh, NC – On Wednesday, NC House Legislators passed several bills aimed to reform law enforcement conduct and care in North Carolina. The unanimous passage of each piece of legislation marks the commitment of the State House to improve policing and restore trust in our LEOs, departments, and agencies.
“We are always looking for ways we can improve,” said Rep. Kristin Baker of Cabarrus County. Baker, a licensed psychiatrist for over 25 years, filed House Bill 436 which would require law enforcement officers to pass a psychological evaluation prior to employment with a new department. Additionally, the bill gives better access to mental health resources for officers and would promote strategies proven to increase mental wellness. “Our law enforcement officers are put under tremendous stress every day. We need to make sure they have the resources they need to stay healthy physically, mentally, and emotionally.”
Rep. John Szoka (R-Cumberland) has also been leader in the Legislature for criminal justice reform. In 2020, Szoka, chaired the House Select Committee on Community Relations, Law Enforcement, and Justice.
“Last year we listened to testimony from members of the public, law enforcement agencies, and subject matter experts to find practical ways to improve policing in North Carolina,” Szoka explained. “House Bills 536, 547, and 548 are the product of those discussions and have received strong support from all stakeholders involved.”
House Bill 536 – Duty to Intervene creates an affirmative duty on the part of North Carolina law enforcement to intervene and report instances of excessive force used by other police officers. House Bill 547 allows law enforcement standards commissions to use the National Decertification Index to crack down on officers hoping to hide past misconduct at other agencies. Finally, House Bill 548 requires officers who lie under oath to be reported to the standards commission, so the incident is documented if the officer ever moves to another department or agency.
“We feel these bills are important first steps to address some areas for improvement in North Carolina and increase accountability in our law enforcement agencies.”