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Arkansas law enforcement undergoing additional excessive force training

It's been one year since Governor Asa Hutchinson signed a bill into law requiring all law enforcement officers to take annual excess force training.

ARKANSAS, USA — In April of 2021, Arkansas lawmakers and Gov. Asa Hutchinson signed ACT 792 into law making it a requirement to take annual excessive force prevention training.

A year later, the Arkansas Department of Public Safety says a majority of law enforcement officers have completed the training.

The training requires officers to intervene if they see excessive force by another officer.

"This is an effort to make where the good guys are empowered and equipped in order to address it when some people either go off or not behaving themselves or unruly to begin with," said the bill's author Senator Bob Ballinger. “But either way, law enforcement officers not breaking the law it helps them realize that they have a duty to intervene."

The law was signed on April 20, 2021, the same day the Derek Chauvin trial reached a verdict. Chauvin is the former Minneapolis, Minnesota officer found guilty of the death of George Floyd. The death of Floyd sparked protests in 2020 about policing nationwide, including here in Arkansas.

Ballinger says the protests in Arkansas are exactly why he wrote it. 

"With all the violence that was going on in Arkansas we can do something," Ballinger said.

Since the signing of this law that went into effect in January 2022, police have also increased their required training for racial profiling from two hours of annual training to four hours.

Arkansas Justice Reform Coalition Co-Founder Beth Coger says this is needed. However, she would like more done and for officers to have more resources such as mental health

"Their job is hard enough and if they can get help with responding to situations when someone is having a mental health crisis or a domestic call, I believe they want that help and it would help the community too."

She would also like to see more community involvement by the police as well as more of the community interacting with the police.

Senator Ballinger says this training will have more of a long-term effect on policing in Arkansas.

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