June 25, 2020

House Passes New Democrat Coalition-Endorsed Justice in Policing Act

Today, the House passed the New Democrat Coalition-endorsed H.R. 7120, the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act. This bicameral, comprehensive bill seeks to better hold police accountable, change the culture of law enforcement, and build trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve. 

“Action is long overdue to address the systemic racism prevalent in our nation. The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act is a meaningful first step to reform our law enforcement system, deliver accountability, and end police brutality,” said NDC Chair Derek Kilmer. “I am proud the NDC partnered with our colleagues in the Congressional Black Caucus and endorsed this important legislation. Now it’s time for the Senate to act and pass this bill to drive real change.”

The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2020:

  • Works to End Racial & Religious Profiling
    • Prohibits federal, state, and local law enforcement from racial, religious and discriminatory profiling.
    • Mandates training on racial, religious, and discriminatory profiling for all law enforcement.
    • Requires law enforcement to collect data on all investigatory activities.
  • Save Lives by Banning Chokeholds & No-Knock Warrants
    • 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.
    • Bans no-knock warrants in drug cases at the federal level and conditions law enforcement funding for state and local governments banning no-knock warrants at the local and state level.
    • Requires that deadly force be used only as a last resort and requires officers to employ de-escalation techniques first. Changes the standard to evaluate whether law enforcement use of force was justified from whether the force was “reasonable” to whether the force was “necessary.” Condition grants on state and local law enforcement agencies’ establishing the same use of force standard.
  • Limit Military Equipment on American Streets & Requires Body Cameras
    • Limits the transfer of military-grade equipment to state and local law enforcement.
    • Requires federal uniformed police officers to wear body cameras and requires state and local law enforcement to use existing federal funds to ensure the use of police body cameras.
    • Requires marked federal police vehicles to have dashboard cameras.
  • Hold Police Accountable in Court
    • Makes it easier to prosecute offending officers by amending the federal criminal statute to prosecute police misconduct. The mens rea requirement in 18 U.S.C. Section 242 will be amended from “willfulness” to a “recklessness” standard.
    • Enables individuals to recover damages in civil court when law enforcement officers violate their constitutional rights by eliminating qualified immunity for law enforcement.
  • Investigate Police Misconduct
    • 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.
  • Empower Our Communities to Reimagine Public Safety in an Equitable and Just Way
    • This bill reinvests in our communities by supporting community-based programs to change the culture of law enforcement and empower our communities to reimagine public safety in an equitable and just way.
    • It 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. These local commissions would operate similarly to President Obama’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing.
  • Change the Culture of Law Enforcement with Training to Build Integrity and Trust
    • Requires the creation of law enforcement accreditation standard recommendations based on President Obama’s Taskforce on 21st Century policing.
    • Creates law enforcement development and training programs to develop best practices.
    • Studies the impact of laws or rules that allow a law enforcement officer to delay answers to questions posed by investigators of law enforcement misconduct.
    • Enhances funding for pattern and practice discrimination investigations and programs managed by the DOJ Community Relations Service.
    • Requires the Attorney General to collect data on investigatory actions and detentions by federal law enforcement agencies; the racial distribution of drug charges; the use of deadly force by and against law enforcement officers; as well as traffic and pedestrian stops and detentions.
    • Establishes a DOJ task force to coordinate the investigation, prosecution and enforcement efforts of federal, state and local governments in cases related to law enforcement misconduct.
  • Improve Transparency by Collecting Data on Police Misconduct and Use-of-Force
    • Creates a nationwide police misconduct registry to prevent problematic officers who are fired or leave one agency, from moving to another jurisdiction without any accountability.
    • Mandates state and local law enforcement agencies to report use of force data, disaggregated by race, sex, disability, religion, age.
  • Make Lynching a Federal Crime
    • Makes it a federal crime to conspire to violate existing federal hate crimes laws.

NDC Chair Derek Kilmer (WA-06) issued a statement after the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery and the subsequent days of protests in cities and towns across America. The statement came after the NDC hosted Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) Chair Karen Bass and New Dem CBC Members for a call to discuss action Congress can take 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.