State News

AG Donovan urges Legislature to consider use-of-force reform bills

Attorney General T.J. Donovan sent a letter to Senator Tim Ashe, president pro tempore, and Representative Mitzi Johnson, Speaker of the House, on Wednesday, June 3, urging the Legislature to pass legislation to improve training of law enforcement and to study a change in the standard applied to police use-of-force incidents.

In the letter, Donovan points to two bills, H.808 and H.464, which, if passed, will increase transparency and trust in law enforcement while aiming to limit the number of use-of-force incidents.

“I know you share my dismay and outrage over the murder of George Floyd at the hands of a police officer,” wrote Attorney General Donovan. “I am writing today to ask you to consider legislation that would help prevent similar tragedies from happening here in Vermont.”

Donovan advocates in his letter for the Legislature to convene a committee to consider H.808, “An act relating to the use of deadly force by law enforcement,” which adopts California’s new standard of review in police use-of-force incidents.

He also urged passage of H.464, “An act relating to law enforcement training on appropriate use of force, de-escalation tactics, and cross-cultural awareness,” which would provide a more transparent, fact-based, and community needs-based approach to public safety and community service by establishing a model Use of Force, De-Escalation, and Cross-Cultural Awareness policy. This bill would also require the collection of data about use-of-force incidents.

“We are at an inflection point in policing in our country,” said the attorney general. “These two bills provide avenues to increase our public’s trust in law enforcement and limit the use of force by police. We should act now in order to maintain and increase the public’s trust.”

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