The US House of Representatives passed the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, by a bipartisan vote of 236 to 181. The legislation is the “first-ever bold, comprehensive approach to hold police accountable, change the culture of law enforcement, empower our communities, and build trust between law enforcement and our communities by addressing systemic racism and bias to help save lives,” according to a press release. 

Congressional Black Caucus Chair Karen Bass (D-CA), Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Kamala Harris (D-CA), and House Judiciary Committee Chair Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) introduced the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2020 on June 8, 2020. The legislation has 231 cosponsors in the House and 36 cosponsors in the Senate.

Raul Ruiz

Congressman Raul Ruiz, M.D.

“The recent killing of George Floyd highlighted the anguish and injustices that black communities have experienced for generations and shook our nation to its core,” Congressman Raul Ruiz, M.D., said in a prepared statement. “It is important that we have the difficult but necessary conversations to address racial injustices. That is why I have convened leaders of the Black community and police chiefs for discussions, where we talked about bold reforms to combat racially targeted excessive use of force and racial profiling. This bill reflects many of the changes identified in those conversations – from banning chokeholds and expanding the use of body cameras, to improving training standards and promoting de-escalation. Passing this bill will help move our community and nation from internalizing despair to externalizing hope in action for change.“

Under the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, federal law would: 1) ban chokeholds; 2) end racial and religious profiling; 3) eliminate qualified immunity for law enforcement; 4) establish national standard for the operation of police departments; 5) mandate data collection on police encounters; 6) reprogram existing funds to invest in transformative community-based policing programs; and 7) streamline federal law to prosecute excessive force and establish independent prosecutors for police investigations.

According to the release, the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2020:

  • 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.

Image Sources

  • Raul Ruiz: Raul Ruiz
  • Who Do You Call When Cops Murder: Shutterstock