May 19, 2017 01:36 PM

East Baton Rouge Sheriff's deputies in riot gear line up against protesters in the streets of Baton Rouge last summer following the shooting death of Alton Sterling.
Photo by Christiaan Mader

The Louisiana House has approved, 82-5, a bill that the author hopes will prevent unwanted interactions between police officers and arrestees, such as what occurred in Baton Rouge last July.

House Bill 277 by Rep. Ted James, D-Baton Rouge, would expand law enforcement training to include bias recognition, sudden in-custody death and crisis intervention training, as well as interaction with mentally ill or developmentally disabled persons.

The state’s Police Officer Training Council would create the curriculum, James said during floor debate late Thursday.

The legislation requires officers to complete 400 hours of training, at least 20 of which would be toward in-service training on an annual basis to maintain certification. Present law only requires an officer training course on interacting with mentally ill or developmentally disabled persons.

The bill in part was prompted by the shooting death of Alton Sterling in which two Baton Rouge police officers attempted to arrest the man outside a convenience store July 5, 2016 and ended up shooting him as they struggled with him on the ground.

The incident caused a national reaction, a Justice Department investigation and the possibility of an investigation by the Louisiana Attorney General’s Office. It also indirectly led to the killing of three law enforcement officers by an out-of-state lone wolf shooter.

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