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Bill would require emotional intelligence training for officers

Special to the Legal News

Published: May 15, 2024

A Cincinnati lawmaker has resurrected a bill that would require law enforcement officers to complete emotional intelligence training as a part of the overall instruction for officers who interact with the public.
Sen. Catherine Ingram, a Democrat, recently told members of the Veterans and Public Safety Committee in the Senate that the purpose of Senate Bill 84 is to better equip officers when handling crisis situations.
“Emotional intelligence training prepares officers to care for themselves which in turn allows for them to better and safely proceed during their time in the field,” she said during the hearing.
Emotional intelligence is defined as the ability to identify and manage one’s own emotions as well as the emotions of others, analysis of the bill provided.
It includes possessing self-awareness, self-management, social awareness and relationship management skills.
SB 84 would require the attorney general to adopt rules governing the training of peace officers on emotional intelligence.
The rules adopted must specify the amount of training necessary for the satisfactory completion of basic training programs at approved peace officer training schools, other than the Ohio Peace Officer Training Academy, and the time within which a peace officer is required to receive that training, if the peace officer is appointed as a peace officer before receiving that training, the analysis detailed.
Additionally, it would require the Ohio Peace Officer Training Commission to include training on emotional intelligence in its training program.
“Emotional intelligence (or EIQ) has become one of the most sought out behavioral skills across many organizations,” Ingram said. “It allows for an individual to develop resiliency to stress and adversity.”
She said studies have confirmed that nearly 80 percent of an individual’s ability to function optimally is determined by emotional intelligence.
“While many people may believe they have significant EIQ skills, everyone can improve these skills through training and reinforcement,” the lawmaker said.
Ingram, as a member of the House of Representatives, previously proposed the bill in the final days of the last session of the General Assembly.
She said at the time of the legislation’s initial introduction it garnered the support of EIQ “experts” and groups such as the Fraternal Order of Police.
She noted that emotional intelligence training has been taught at law enforcement agencies across the state, including the Elyria Police Department, Marion Police Department and Delaware County Sheriff’s Office.
“Implementing ongoing and comprehensive EIQ training would benefit not only the officers, but the Ohioans that they have sworn to protect and serve,” Ingram said.
The lawmaker said she believed the legislation she’s proposed could be supported through a program announced in 2021 by Gov. Mike DeWine to protect Ohio citizens from violence and support first responder resilience and recovery.
The state Emergency Management Agency administers the program and the $250 million allotted to it, she said.
“Since the implementation of this program, the state has been able to address mental, physical and emotional health issues, burnout and understaffing” among the ranks of state law enforcement agencies and other first responders, Ingram said.
Two senators co-sponsor SB 84, which awaits further consideration by the committee.
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