Cops Say Sensitivity Training Shouldn't Be A Law E-mail
It's not that the cops in Phoenix, Arizona are against the idea of sensitivity training. Almost everyone is in favor of the training. They just don't think it should be required by law. The goal of the bill in question, Senate Bill 1322, was to help police officers recognize and understand difficulties faced by people with brain injuries or other disabilities. The bill passed in the state Senate, but was summarily shot down by the House Utilities and Municipalities Committee.

Eric Edwards represents the Phoenix P.D. and the Arizona Association of Chiefs of Police. He says that writing a law mandating sensitivity training for officers would add too much of a burden on departments that are already struggling. The fact that the curriculum for the new sensitivity courses would have been created in part by police officers didn't help. Edwards says cops in Phoenix are already overworked with a "laundry list" of new duties and requirements for Phoenix law enforcement personnel.It's not that the cops aren't interested in the training, or the opportunity to help formulate policy, it's just that no one has the time. "This training is valuable, it's necessary and we're going to do it," Edwards said in an interview. "We're absolutely for it. But the big problem is putting it in a statute," he said.

Supporters of the bill and victims of head injuries who may appear intoxicated to untrained police officers expressed disappointment with the decision to kill the law. "We're very disappointed," said Sherri Walton, who is on the board of directors at the Mental Health Association of Arizona.

Kris Keck, a woman who received a head injury from a car accident nearly 21 years ago testified at the house hearing where the bill died. She said she had been taken into police custody more than once because police officers did not believe she was disabled."If there was ever evidence of the necessity of this training, it's my experience," Keck told legislators.

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