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Democrats Revamp Policing Laws In Response to Police Brutality

Led by the Congressional Black Caucus, House Democrats introduce a bill that overhauls police oversight and procedures, following George Floyd protests.
By Simpluris Research
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The Wall Street Journal announced that House Democrats, created and led by the Congressional Black Caucus and supported by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., CA), proposed legislation called "The Justice in Policing Act," which reforms police laws. The goal of new regulations is to hold officers accountable for abusing their power, gather national data on when police force is used and toward which demographic, allow victims to sue if their constitutional rights are being violated, and institute training programs to dismantle systemic racism. The overhaul of policing laws stems from nearly two weeks of demonstrations following the death of George Floyd and the greater Black American community caused by police brutality.   

The world is witnessing the birth of a new movement in this country.
- Karen Bass, Congressional Black Caucus Chairwoman

Chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus, Karen Bass (D., CA), who is spearheading the effort, called it "bold" and "transformative." She said, "What we are witnessing is the birth of a new movement in our country with thousands coming together in every state marching to demand a change that ends police brutality, holds police officers accountable, and calls for transparency. For over 100 years, Black communities in America have sadly been marching against police abuse and calling for the police to protect and serve them as they do others. Today we unveil the Justice in Policing Act, which will establish a bold transformative vision of policing in America. Never again should the world be subjected to witnessing what we saw on the streets in Minnesota with George Floyd."

Mrs. Pelosi said, “Today this moment of national anguish is being transformed into a movement of national action. We cannot settle for anything less than transformative, structural change.”

Karen Bass Roundtable

Karen Bass Roundtable

Karen Bass Roundtable

The new bill:

  • Prohibits federal, state, and local law enforcement from racial, religious and discriminatory profiling, and mandates training on racial, religious, and discriminatory profiling for all law enforcement.
  • Bans chokeholds, carotid holds and no-knock warrants at the federal level and limits the transfer of military-grade equipment to state and local law enforcement.
  • Mandates the use of dashboard cameras and body cameras for federal offices and requires state and local law enforcement to use existing federal funds to ensure the use of police body cameras.
  • Establishes a National Police Misconduct Registry to prevent problematic officers who are fired or leave on agency from moving to another jurisdiction without any accountability.
  • Amends federal criminal statute from “willfulness” to a “recklessness” standard to successfully identify and prosecute police misconduct.
  • Reforms qualified immunity so that individuals are not barred from recovering damages when police violate their constitutional rights.
  • Establishes public safety innovation grants for community-based organizations to create local commissions and task forces to help communities to re-imagine and develop concrete, just and equitable public safety approaches.
  • Creates law enforcement development and training programs to develop best practices and requires the creation of law enforcement accreditation standard recommendations based on President Obama’s Task force on 21st Century policing.
  • Requires state and local law enforcement agencies to report use of force data, disaggregated by race, sex, disability, religion, age.
  • Improves the use of pattern and practice investigations at the federal level by granting the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division subpoena power and creates a grant program for state attorneys general to develop authority to conduct independent investigations into problematic police departments.
  • Establishes a Department of Justice task force to coordinate the investigation, prosecution and enforcement efforts of federal, state and local governments in cases related to law enforcement misconduct.

The Republican-controlled Senate has not yet released any official statements regarding The Justice in Policing Act. However, they have commented that they are open to improving legislation, law-enforcement relations with black communities, and police oversight and procedures.

Rep. Tom Reed (R., NY), co-chairman of the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus said, “We are joining in the protest, we are joining in the efforts to use George Floyd’s murder in a positive way."

On June 16, the Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on Mr. Floyd’s death, and its chairman, Senator Lindsey Graham (R., SC) has said he wants to look at “better-policing methods.” 

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