Black kids in Utah are arrested at 8 times their share of the population.

Mar 2, 2021 by

Police officers who work in Utah schools should receive mandatory training in cultural awareness and how to de-escalate conflicts with students, a state lawmaker has proposed.

Rep. Sandra Hollins, D-Salt Lake City, believes requiring that instruction could help reduce the number of young people of color referred to the juvenile justice system in Utah, where they fill detention centers at disproportionate rates. And she’d also like the training to include how law enforcement can respond sensitively to students with disabilities, those experiencing mental health crises and anyone who has been exposed to trauma.

“We need to make sure our vulnerable kids are not going through that school-to-prison pipeline,” she said Thursday during a committee hearing for her bill. “They are now. And we need to stop it.”

HB345, which passed out unanimously and moves next to the House floor, strengthens previous legislation on the topic that Hollins drafted and which was signed into law in 2016.

With that bill, Hollins had instructed the Utah State Board of Education to draft a training program for school resource officers with some focus on policing without bias. But it was never required that officers participate. And the areas of training were “just suggestions,” she said.

Source: Black kids in Utah are arrested at 8 times their share of the population. This bill suggests a way to possibly change that.

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