By Terry Baxter, Law Enforcement and Safety Specialist

I am pretty sure by now everyone is well aware that during the 2021 107th legislative session, Legislative Bill (LB) 51 was passed and signed by Governor Ricketts and goes into effect August 28, 2021. With the passage of LB 51 many requirements were implemented which will significantly impact Nebraska law  enforcement agencies.

Lawmakers across the nation responded to public outcry after law enforcement in-custody deaths sparked nationwide protests which began the movement of legislation involving police reform.

Nebraska Crime Commission has placed information about LB 51 on their website after numerous inquiries generated numerous questions, the information is available through the following link:

So here is a breakdown of LB 51:

  • Annual continuing education requirements increase from 20 hrs. of continuing education to 32 hrs. of continuing education by 2023. Training to include:
    • De-Escalation, mental health, and substance abuse
    • Anti-bias and implicit bias
    • Firearms
    • Officer wellness
    • Legal updates-First Amendment and Fourth Amendment
    • Pursuit policy review
  • Psychological examination required for new law enforcement applicants.
  • New law enforcement applicants must testify under oath that their certification in another jurisdiction has not been revoked or suspended.
  • Law enforcement certification must include:
    • 24 hrs. of mental health and substance abuse
    • 16 hrs. of human behavior and communicating with a person in crisis
    • 8 hrs. Anti-bias and implicit bias
  • Non-certified conditional officers must work under the direct supervision and guidance of a field training officer and complete:
    • 24 hrs. on use of force, which includes:
      • Defensive tactics
      • Arrest controls
      • Handcuffing, pat down and searches
    • 16 hrs. of firearms
    • 12 hrs. arrest, search and seizure that includes Fourth and Fifth Amendment training
    • 8 hrs. of de-escalation
    • 8 hrs. of mental health crisis
    • 8 hrs. of anti-bias and implicit bias
    • 4 hrs. of substance abuse training
  • Noncertified conditional officers can only be employed for 16 weeks before becoming certified, many exceptions apply.
  • Chokeholds and lateral-vascular neck restraint can only be used when deadly force is justified.
  • Implementing a duty to intervene policy.
  • Implementing procedures on how complaints of law enforcement misconduct will be received and investigated.
  • Law enforcement agencies must become accredited on accreditation standards that will be established by Crime Commission, beginning January 1, 2023, the commission will publish a list of unaccredited agencies annually. Unaccredited agencies will be ineligible to received loans, grant funding or donations from the commission until accreditation is achieved.

As you can see many variables have been implemented for new hires as well as seasoned officers and administrators, as well as the officers need to be familiar with the changes affecting law enforcement operations.