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Nebraska lawmakers pass Ernie Chambers' final bill, which requires bias training for police

Nebraska lawmakers pass Ernie Chambers' final bill, which requires bias training for police


LINCOLN — Nebraska lawmakers passed what almost certainly will be the last bill of State Sen. Ernie Chambers’ legislative career Friday.

Ernie Chambers mug senators (copy)

Ernie Chambers

Legislative Bill 924 would require sheriffs and other law enforcement officers to take two hours of anti-bias and implicit bias training every year. The training would be considered part of agencies’ efforts to minimize apparent or actual racial profiling.

After senators voted 49-0 to pass the bill, Speaker of the Legislature Jim Scheer of Norfolk took the opportunity to note the occasion and to congratulate Chambers on his record-setting career in the Nebraska Legislature.

Chambers then attempted to ignore what was happening as colleagues stood and applauded. The veteran Omaha senator is term limited and barred from running for reelection this year. He had been term limited out 12 years ago but returned after sitting out a term. Now 83, he could not run again until he is 87.

LB 924 took on added importance following the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police. Floyd’s death occurred well after the Legislature was slated to end its session this year. But lawmakers took a four-month hiatus because of the coronavirus outbreak.

Earlier this spring, Chambers called the measure a “pee-wee” bill. But he said it could help prevent police killings of Black people and reduce the amount of racial profiling in traffic stops. He said the training could be incorporated into the 20 hours of annual training required for law enforcement officers to maintain certification.

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Martha Stoddard keeps legislators honest from The World-Herald's Lincoln bureau, where she covers news from the State Capitol. Follow her on Twitter @StoddardOWH. Phone: 402-473-9583.

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