Government affairs

Legislative Updates

Congressional Democrats introduce broad police reform legislation

Today, Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA) and Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), along with 164 House colleagues and 33 Senate colleagues, introduced the “Justice in Policing Act of 2020” (H.R. 7120/S. 3912). The bill’s release comes in response to the existing institutional racism and demand long-overdue reforms to prevent the recurrence of what happened in Minnesota (and also in Georgia and Kentucky) in May.

Among the many provisions included in this bill, the Justice in Policing Act would:

  • Establish a national standard for the operation of police departments
  • Mandate data collection on police encounters
  • Reprogram existing funds to invest in transformative community-based policing programs
  • Streamline federal law to prosecute excessive force and establish independent prosecutors for police investigations.

Beyond those measures, the bill would also improve police practices and training, ban choke-holds and no-knock warrants, limit police use of military equipment, and enforce the use of body cameras on uniformed officers. The legislation seeks to tackle systemic racism and bias as part of the efforts to build trust between law enforcement and American communities.

"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,” said Rep. Bass. “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."

“America has a serious and deadly problem when it comes to the discriminatory and excessive policing of communities of color - and that policing exists within a system that time and again refuses to hold police accountable for their brutality,” said Sen. Booker. “For too long, this has been accepted as a cruel reality of being black in this country. We are forced to figure out how to keep ourselves safe from law enforcement and we are viewed as a threat to be protected against instead of people worth protecting.”

“And for too long, Congress has failed to act,” Sen. Booker continued. “That ends today with the landmark Justice in Policing Act which, for the first time in history, will take a comprehensive approach to ending police brutality. On the back-end, the bill fixes our federal laws so law enforcement officers are held accountable for egregious misconduct and police abuses are better tracked and reported. And on the front-end, the bill improves police practices and training to prevent these injustices from happening in the first place.”

As of press, no Republicans have co-sponsored the legislation, but are reportedly working on their own police reform proposals. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) tapped Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) to lead the chamber’ effort, while Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) is looking to release his own plan shortly.

In the days of civil unrest following the killing of George Floyd, NALC President Fredric Rolando had this to say.

“The crisis of police violence against people of color in America is not just a problem for minorities,” said President Rolando. “It is a crisis for all Americans that must be addressed. It requires all of us to accept the need for deep structural reform that respects the human rights of all while honoring the essential work of our police. Even as we battle a terrible pandemic and its economic effects, we must make that reform the vital work of our democracy.”

While NALC has not taken a direct position on this particular legislation or police reform in general, we will continue to monitor the progress of this legislation. 


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