New Democrat Coalition Endorses Justice in Policing Act

June 16, 2020 by Dan McCue
People hold signs as they listen to a speaker in front of city hall in downtown Kansas City, Mo., during a rally to protest the death of George Floyd who died after being restrained by Minneapolis police officers on May 25. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel, File)

WASHINGTON – The New Democrat Coalition on Tuesday endorsed the Justice in Policing Act, bicameral legislation that seeks to better hold police accountable, change the culture of law enforcement, and build trust between law enforcement and communities.

“Action is long overdue,” said Coalition Chair Rep. Derek Kilmer, D-Wash., in a written statement.

“There is no single policy that will erase decades of systemic racism and reform policing, but this legislation is a good first step toward driving real change,” he said, adding, “the Coalition is committed to working with our colleagues to pass this bill in the House and work to advance it in the Senate.”

Specifically, the Justice in Policing Act of 2020 (H.R. 7120): 

  • 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 officers 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 on leave from an 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, and 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 Justice Department task force to coordinate the investigation, prosecution and enforcement efforts of federal, state and local governments in cases related to law enforcement misconduct.

In the wake of the death of George Floyd, who was choked to death while in police custody, Kilmer said the incident brought back to light the racial injustice that still unfortunately exists in our country.

“My heart aches for the families most directly impacted and Black Americans everywhere who are — appropriately — calling for justice, respect, and understanding,” the representative said.

On Tuesday, he recommitted to the New Democrat Coalition’s partnering with the Congressional Black Caucus “to help rectify the injustice many Black Americans are experiencing and help bring our communities together.”

“The NDC will remain partners with the CBC and Black leaders in condemning and working to end targeted police violence across the country,” he said.

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