Rep. Karen Bass, D-Los Angeles, used the Weekly Democratic Address Friday to build support for the Justice in Policing Act she introduced.
The bill introduced Monday is billed by supporters as advancing key steps to achieve transformational structural change to end police brutality.
H.R. 7120 would establish a national standard for the operation of police departments; mandate data collection on police encounters; reprogram existing funds to invest in transformative community-based policing programs; streamline federal law to prosecute excessive force; and establish independent prosecutors for police investigations.
“This bold, transformative legislation will assist police departments to change the culture of policing, raise the standards of the profession and hold those officers accountable,” said Bass, the chair of the Congressional Black Caucus.
“Now, I know that change is difficult, but I am certain that police officers, who risk their lives everyday, are concerned about their profession and don’t want to work an environment where they are chastised for intervening when they see a fellow officer abuse a citizen.
“I am certain police officers would like to be free to stop and intervene an officer from using deadly force when it’s not necessary. And I am certain that police officers want to make sure that they are trained in the best practices in policing.”
The bill would ban chokeholds and carotid holds at the federal level and condition law enforcement funding for state and local governments on banning chokeholds; ban 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.
“We all want to be safe in our communities,” Bass said.
“We all want the police to come to our rescue when we are in trouble. We all want to support the brave men and women who put their lives on the line every day for us. And, when we interact with police, we all want and expect to be treated with respect, not suspicion * and we should not be in fear of our life when interacting with officers.”
Sen. Tim Scott, R-South Carolina, sent a draft of a similar bill to his Republican Senate colleagues on Tuesday.
The 10-section Just and Unifying Solutions to Invigorate Communities Everywhere Act would:
— Tie grant eligibility to reporting uses of force that cause death or serious injury to the established FBI data collection;
— Require states, tied to grant eligibility, to provide data on the use of no-knock search warrants;
— Expand Department of Justice grants to hire recruiters and enroll law enforcement officer candidates who have racial and ethnic characteristics similar to their community;
— Increase funding for the Body-Worn Camera Partnership Program, require law enforcement officers to wear body cameras during arrests and detentions and require departments to provide training on using and storing video;
— Reduce grants for states that fail to enact policies penalizing failure to use issued body-worn cameras, such as turning off the camera or mysterious “malfunctions”;
— Require states, tied to grant eligibility, to maintain a system for sharing records of law enforcement officers. When making a hiring decision, a law enforcement agency must search the system and obtain records of applicants. Records must include commendations, complaints, discipline and internal investigations;
— Add the new crime of “conspiracy to commit a hate crime” to the criminal code;
— Establish the Commission on the Social Status of Black Men and Boys within the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights to conduct a systematic study of the conditions affecting black men and boys, including homicide rates, arrest and incarceration rates, poverty, violence, fatherhood, mentorship, drug abuse, death rates, disparate income and wealth levels, school performance in all grade levels including postsecondary education and college, and health issues;
— Establish the National Criminal Justice Commission to conduct a comprehensive review of the criminal justice system and make recommendations for criminal justice reform;
— Tying de-escalation training grant funding to required training on alternatives to uses of force and de-escalation tactics.
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