WARWICK, RI – On Monday, Congressman Jim Langevin (D-RI) and more than 150 Democratic colleagues introduced the Justice in Policing Act of 2020, a sweeping reform bill addressing police brutality, racial injustice and increasing accountability and oversight.
Nationwide protests followed news of Minneapolis police killing George Floyd, with one officer, Derek Chauvin, kneeling on the man’s neck for several minutes. As Floyd pleaded for his life, telling the officers he couldn’t breathe, three other officers watched without intervening.
While peaceful protests spread across the U.S. opposing police violence and police discrimination against black citizens in particular, video and photographs from the demonstrations showed hundreds of examples of police violence against protesters and journalists.
“My heart continues to go out to George Floyd’s loved ones. Sadly, his murder is yet another tragedy driven by racism and discrimination targeting minorities and communities of color. While the vast majority of police officers honor their code to protect and serve, the American people are demanding change to end police brutality and ensure equal treatment under the law. George Floyd’s life mattered, Black Lives Matter, and the countless black lives that have been taken unjustly must be honored with actions, not more rhetoric,” Langevin said in a statement announcing his support for the Justice in Policing Act.
The Justice in Policing Act of 2020 reforms include:
- 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 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 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 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.
“I’m proud to be an original cosponsor of this transformative legislation because Black Lives Matter, and reform is desperately needed to prevent another tragedy,” Langevin said.