Lawmakers highlight latest police reform laws

Local News

BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) – There are multiple laws going into effect at the end of the month that look to tackle police reform. The Louisiana Legislative Black Caucus highlighted the legislation created by a bipartisan task force at the Tuesday press conference.

Since the killing of Alton Sterling five years ago, Baton Rouge has been tackling police reform. Now lawmakers are recognizing the continued effort to make sweeping policy changes in the legislature.

“A task force was formed and this caucus took our responsibility seriously not to just march on the outside and ask for change,” Rep. Edward ‘Ted’ James II said. “But we took our responsibility very seriously and marched into this building and made sure we passed legislation to address this issue.”

A bill by Sen. Cleo Fields bans chokeholds unless the officer’s life is in danger, which the Baton Rouge Police Department (BRPD) said they have had in place for years. The bill also will keep officers from turning off body and dash cameras at will.

“We will have uniform application of body cameras and dash cameras. We also will have a duty to intervene so when a police officer sees another officer acting outside of the law, that officer will have a duty to intervene,” Sen. Fields said.

Agencies will create rules around when a body camera or dash camera can be turned off and on. Another key part of that legislation includes the restriction of no-knock warrants. Law enforcement will have to get the warrants approved by a state judge. No-knocks will not be able to take place on the weekend or at night. Additionally, an officer must clearly identify themselves and be in uniform.

From the other side of the aisle, a bill by Rep. Tony Bacala requires anti-bias training and creates procedures on how to handle officer misconduct. The Peace Officer Standards and Training Council and other government agencies will have an officer in charge of policies to help recruit minority offices.

BRPD said many of the policies are already in place. The East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office did not respond for comment on the legislation. The new laws will take effect on Aug. 1.

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