Reform package could provide mental health assistance to law enforcement

Published: May. 5, 2021 at 8:15 PM EDT
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GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) - Senate Bill 300 was proposed by members of the North Carolina State Senate and House of Representatives that would provide mental health assistance resources to members of law enforcement around the state while targeting insubordinate and overly aggressive officers.

Sheriff's Department in riot gear at protests in Elizabeth City.
Sheriff's Department in riot gear at protests in Elizabeth City.(WITN News)

The bill is a part of a criminal justice reform package created by members of the General Assembly.

This proposal was approved on Tuesday, May 4, just one day after the funeral of Andrew Brown Jr; a black man who was shot by deputies in Pasquotank County.

When asked about how soon the Senate would get the reform package implemented as a bill before their crossover deadline, when one session in the Senate ends and the next begins, Senator Don Davis (D) of Pitt County said he felt optimistic it would beat the deadline but says, “What I believe is important right now is not necessarily moving fast, as being intentional about getting it right. I do believe that it is important for us to have an all-inclusive reform package. People want to see an inclusive justice system and we need a justice system that is ultimately working for the people of North Carolina.”

The reform package is receiving support from both sides of the aisle. Senator Michael Lazzara (R) of Onslow County also gave a statement on the bill saying:

“Senate Bill 300 is a continuation of Senate Republican’s efforts to enact historic criminal justice reform in North Carolina. We have been blazing the trail in criminal justice reform through Raise the Age, the Second Chance Act, and the First Step Act. SB 300 builds upon those efforts by addressing the critical need for mental health and wellness training for our law enforcement officers. It increases transparency in our law enforcement agencies and encourages early intervention and reporting of suspicious behavior amongst law enforcement officers. Furthermore, SB 300 addresses the overwhelming concerns of the community as it pertains to the rise in rioting across our state and nation by increasing the penalty for looters and armed rioters. SB 300 addresses many of the issues currently being discussed in our nation and is a strong step forward in reforming our state’s criminal justice system.”

This criminal justice reform package is comprised of nearly three dozen different bills that all deal with criminal justice reform.

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