Congressional Black Caucus Chair and Crime Subcommittee Chair Karen Bass
AJ Williams, Michigan Chronicle Managing Editor
The House Judiciary Committee passed the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, by a vote of 24 to 14. The legislation is the first-ever bold, comprehensive approach to hold police accountable, end racial profiling, change the culture of law enforcement, empower our communities, and build trust between law enforcement and our communities by addressing systemic racism and bias to help save lives.
Congressional Black Caucus Chair Karen Bass (D-CA), Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Kamala Harris (D-CA), and House Judiciary Committee Chair Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) introduced the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2020 on June 8, 2020. The legislation has 230 cosponsors in the House and 36 cosponsors in the Senate. The bill now heads to the House floor for a full vote in the House.
During Wednesday’s markup, Chairman Nadler said, “Today we’ll offer more than just sympathy. Today we’re proposing meaningful change. Thoughts and prayers are not enough. Pledges to study the problem are not enough. Half-measures are not enough. To the Members of this Committee, the Justice in Policing Act is our opportunity to show the world that we are listening and that we will respond with real and lasting reforms. We must not let this moment slip away.”
House Judiciary Committee Democratic Members called for the passage of the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act. During the markup of the George Floyd Justice In Policing Act, House Judiciary Republicans offered non-germane amendments to distract from the need for real police reform. Rep. Cedric Richmond countered with a powerful statement on why this issue is so important and why we need to pass the George Floyd Justice In Policing Act.
The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2020:
- 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 Taskforce 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.
Congressional Black Caucus Chair and Crime Subcommittee Chair Karen Bass appealed to the Committee and shared a personal story, stating, “It took me many years to get over the fear of those lights coming on behind me. It wasn’t fear about getting a ticket. It was fear that my interaction with the police may result in me not surviving. This isn’t just an issue for Black men. It’s an issue for Black women as well.”
“When I hear that many of our proposals have been incorporated in what I hear is coming out of the Senate in a different way, not as strong, not as powerful, but it makes me feel like there is a pathway for us to do this,” Bass said. “And the American people are waiting for us and the whole world is watching us.”