Earlier this week House and Senate Democrats came together to unveil “The Justice in Police Act of 2020,” a sweeping law enforcement reform bill aimed at reducing police brutality and violence against citizens, particularly those in minority communities.
The primary sponsors of the bill included Reps. Karen Bass (D-CA) and Jerry Nadler (D-NY); along with Sens. Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Kamala Harris (D-CA).
“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 Bass, who is the Congressional Chair of the Black Caucus, at the Monday press conference.
“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,” she continued. “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.”
The legislation would do all of the following:
- 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.
In addition to having the support of well over 130 representatives in the House and over 30 senators in the Senate, the legislation has been endorsed by various organizations including the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF), The National Coalition on Black Civic Participation (NCBCP), Black Millennial Convention, and the National Urban League, among others.
Currently, no Republican in either the House or Senate has endorsed the bill. However, CNN reports that the GOP is working on its own police reform legislation that is “in the very early stages” and members are “considering all options.”
As a gun owner and pro-2A advocate, what worries me about this bill is that it will expand the scope and power of the federal government. Policing the police is critical to maintaining the integrity and well-being of a democracy. I get that. But handing that job off to Big Brother may be a recipe for disaster.
From Project MKUltra to Operation Fast and Furious, there are numerous occasions throughout our history where the feds have been, shall we say, less than ethical in their dealings (We’re talking about CIA mind-control experiments and the ATF/DOJ running U.S. guns to known Mexican drug cartels. Not exactly setting the gold standard for trust in law enforcement.)
What I’m getting at is that shouldn’t the responsibility of increasing transparency and accountability of police fall to local communities? Shouldn’t they work hand-in-hand with police departments to root out the bad eggs on the force? Why does the DOJ need to get involved?
From my perspective, neighborhood cops being policed by the neighbors they serve is a much better strategy then neighborhood cops being tracked, surveilled, and investigated by DOJ operatives in Washington. I feel like once they start to answer to Big Brother they start working for Big Brother, as opposed to the citizens who actually pay their salary.
Well, those are my initial thoughts, what say you?