JUSTICE IN POLICING ACT OF 2020

JUSTICE IN POLICING ACT OF 2020

The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2020 is a civil rights and police reform bill drafted by Democrats in the United States Congress, including members of the Congressional Black Caucus. The legislation was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives on June 8, 2020. The legislation aims to combat police misconductexcessive force, and racial bias in policing.

 

The bill passed the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives on a mostly party-line vote of 236–181 but is not expected to advance in the Republican Controlled Senate. President Donald Trump opposes the legislation

 

The drafting of the legislation was preceded by a series of killings of Black Americans by white police officers and civilians in 2020, including and Breonna Taylor in Kentucky, which resulted in a protest movement. However, the proposed legislation contains some provisions that civil rights advocates have long sought.

 

Congressional gridlock.  The bill is not expected to advance in the Republican-controlled Senate and is thus gridlocked Republican senators led by Tim Scott have proposed alternative police legislation that is far narrower than the House bill.

 

The Scott bill would introduce incentives for states and localities to change police practices (by limiting chokeholds and promoting the use of body cameras), but would not restrict the qualified-immunity doctrine, would not ban chokeholds or otherwise federally restrict police use of deadly force, and would not restrict no-knock warrants.

 

Democrats and civil rights organizations oppose the Senate Republican proposal as too weak; Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and Democratic Senators Kamala Harris and Cory Booker (the sponsors of the Senate version of the Justice in Policing Act), called the Republican bill "not salvageable" and "so threadbare and lacking in substance that it does not even provide a proper baseline for negotiations."

 

On June 24, 2020, the Senate Republican proposal failed in a procedural vote of 55–45, on a mostly-party line vote, failing to obtain the 60 votes needed to advance to a floor debate. Democrats called upon Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to enter "bipartisan talks to get to a constructive starting point.

Provisions

  • Grant power to the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division to issue subpoenas to police departments as part of "pattern or practice" investigations into whether there has been a "pattern and practice" of bias or misconduct by the department
  • Provide grants to state attorneys general to "create an independent process to investigate misconduct or excessive use of force" by police forces
  • Establish a federal registry of police misconduct complaints and disciplinary actions
  • Enhance accountability for police officers who commit misconduct, including by restricting the application of the qualified immunity doctrine for local and state officers, and by changing the federal statute on police violation of constitutional rights to lower the standard of criminal intent from violation conducted "willfully" to a violation "knowingly or with reckless disregard"
  • Require federal uniformed police officers to have body-worn cameras
  • Require marked federal police vehicles to be equipped with dashboard cameras.
  • Require state and local law enforcement agencies that receive federal funding to "ensure" the use of body-worn and dashboard cameras.
  • Restrict the transfer of military equipment to the police (see 1033 programmilitarization of police)
  • Require state and local law enforcement agencies that receive federal funding to adopt anti-discrimination policies and training programs, including those targeted at fighting racial profiling[4]
  • Prohibit federal police officers from using chokeholds or other carotid holds (which led to the deaths of George Floyd and Eric Garner), and require state and local law enforcement agencies that receive federal funding to adopt the same prohibition
  • Prohibit the issuance of no-knock warrants(warrants that allow police to conduct a raid without knocking or announcing themselves) in federal drug investigations, and provide incentives to the states to enact a similar prohibition.
  • Change the threshold for the permissible use of force by federal law enforcement officers from "reasonableness" to only when "necessary to prevent death or serious bodily injury."
  • Mandate that federal officers use deadly force only as a last resort and that de-escalation be attempted, and condition federal funding to state and local law enforcement agencies on the adoption of the same police.