Up & Coming Weekly

December 22, 2020

Up and Coming Weekly is a weekly publication in Fayetteville, NC and Fort Bragg, NC area offering local news, views, arts, entertainment and community event and business information.

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6 UCW DECEMBER 23-29, 2020 WWW.UPANDCOMINGWEEKLY.COM Committee proposes methods to improve police training, community relations by REP. JOHN SZOKA Earlier this year when peaceful protests turned violent I recognized that there were questions affecting North Carolina that I didn't know the answers to. ose deeply disturbing events that tore apart communities made it clear that our state needed answers. Are chokeholds applied by law enforce- ment officers legal or illegal in North Carolina? Is there a duty for law enforce- ment officers to intervene when observ- ing potential official misconduct? And the list went on. I went to Speaker Moore and suggested he convene a House Select Committee to investigate these and other issues. He agreed and the House Select Committee on Community Relations, Law Enforce- ment and Justice was formed and I was appointed a Chairman. is committee was unique in that it not only had legislative members but also reached into the community to ask non-legislators to be voting members of the committee. Committee members ranged on both sides of the political spectrum and in- cluded governmental and special interest groups as well. We began committee work in early Sep- tember with the goal of creating a forum where lawmakers could listen to diverse voices across the state, seek understand- ing, and work toward making meaning- ful recommendations for transformative change. During the committee process mem- bers heard from various stakeholders across North Carolina, solicited recom- mendations from committee members and the public, explored potential chang- es and eventually adopted the commit- tee's final recommendations. I am proud to announce that on Dec. 14 the committee ended its work and in a historic, bi-partisan vote unanimously adopted the recommendations. It was an honor to lead this committee and I am thankful for the hard work of the members that allowed us to recom- mend targeted, meaningful reforms in such a short time. e final committee report includes thirteen recommendations for action- oriented policy solutions that reflect broad community and stakeholder agree- ment. ose recommendations are: • Creating additional statewide law enforcement training requirements that include requiring crisis intervention training and implicit bias training; as well as providing additional resources to of- ficers and agencies to complete the new requirement training. • Requiring mandatory reporting re- quirements for law enforcement agencies for disciplinary actions, resignations, terminations and de-certifications. • Creating whistle-blower protections for officers that report misconduct. • Providing law enforcement with ad- ditional resources when encountering mental health issues in the field. • Providing law enforcement with addi- tional resources to receive mental health treatment. • Reclassification of some lower level criminal offenses. • Directing the Administrative Office of the Courts to examine whether each judicial district would benefit from the availability of specialty courts such as drug treatment or Veterans Courts. • Banning the use of chokeholds. • Requiring psychological evaluations for all public safety officers. • Requiring law enforcement to report use of force incidents. • Mandating the duty to intervene and the duty to report officer misconduct. • Creating and funding a pilot program for high school student law enforcement career exploration. • Creating a system to allow individuals to receive additional notification of court dates, to avoid additional Failure to Ap- pear charges. ese committee recommendations will provide guidance for potential leg- islative action by future sessions of the North Carolina General Assembly. A full committee report can be found on the committee website at www.ncleg.gov/ Committees/CommitteeInfo/HouseSe- lect/200 is committee report is just the begin- ning; I look forward to working during the upcoming session with fellow legisla- tors to advance these policy recommen- dations into meaningful legislation. POLITICS WFAYcountry.com WFAY is Fayetteville's 100.1% Christmas Station. All Christmas…All The Time through the holidays. Merry Christmas from our family to yours Jeff and Christy "Sweet Tea" Andrulonis REP. JOHN SZOKA, District 45. COMMENTS? Editor@upandcomin- gweekly.com. 910-484-6200 Rep. John Szoka serves on the General Assembly House Select Committee on Community Rela- tions, Law Enforcement and Justice.

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