WASHINGTON, DC — June 26, 2020 — Congressman Eliot L. Engel yesterday issued the following statement on House passage of H.R. 7120, the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, a comprehensive approach to police reform in America:
“This strong action taken by the House today is a commonsense overhaul of policing in America. Brutal policing practices in our nation have caused tremendous pain and led to unnecessary loss of life, especially within communities of color. The bill passed today includes reforms that are vital to ending a police system that does not equitably serve and protect every American in the same, just way.
“This is an important moment in our nation’s history. Sadly, the President and his party have offered weak and tone-deaf solutions to the glaring problem of police brutality. Their rhetoric often incentivizes poor police practices, and the ‘reform’ bill offered by the Senate GOP is hardly adequate. The real solution is starring them right in the face: pass the bill we just passed in the House.”
The Justice in Policing Act includes the following reforms:
- Hold police accountable in our courts by:
- Amending the mens rea requirement in 18 U.S.C. Section 242, the federal criminal statute to prosecute police misconduct, from “willfulness” to a “recklessness” standard;
- Reform qualified immunity so that individuals are not entirely barred from recovering damages when police violate their constitutional rights;
- Improve the use of pattern and practice investigations at the federal level by granting the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division subpoena power and incentivizing state attorneys general to conduct pattern and practice investigations;
- Incentivize states to create independent investigative structures for police involved deaths through grants; and
- Create best practices recommendations based on the Obama 21st Century Policing Task force.
- Improve transparency into policing by collecting better and more accurate data of police misconduct and use-of-force by:
- Creating a National Police Misconduct Registry to prevent problem-officers from changing jurisdictions to avoid accountability; and
- Mandate state and local law enforcement agencies report use of force data, disaggregated by race, sex, disability, religion, age.
- Improve police training and practices by:
- Ending racial and religious profiling;
- Mandating training on racial bias and the duty to intervene;
- Banning no-knock warrants in drug cases;
- Banning chokeholds and carotid holds;
- Changing the standard to evaluate whether law enforcement use of force was justified from whether the force was reasonable to whether the force was necessary;
- Limiting the transfer of military-grade equipment to state and local law enforcement;
- Requiring federal uniformed police officers to wear body cameras; and
- Requiring state and local law enforcement to use existing federal funds to ensure the use of police body cameras.
SOURCE: Bryant Daniels | Communications and Deputy District Director | Congressman Eliot L. Engel