Last Thursday, U.S. Representative Derek Kilmer (WA-06) voted to support the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2020, a comprehensive bill he helped introduce with the Congressional Black Caucus focused on structural changes to combat police brutality, raise standards, and address racial injustice.
“Throughout our region and across this country, people are demanding change to end police brutality and ensure accountability and justice,” said Rep. Kilmer. “Today, Congress passed the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2020 to take a first step toward delivering real change – banning chokeholds, stopping no-knock warrants, combatting racial profiling, and establishing new standards for policing. While there is no single policy that will erase centuries of systemic racism and reform policing, this legislation moves us further down the path toward justice. I was proud to help introduce this bill and vote in favor of it today.”
“Unlike other communities, who must lobby their elected officials to seek equitable reforms, I am grateful that we have federal leaders in Washington State that are unequivocally strong in their support for justice in policing,” stated Tacoma Mayor Victoria Woodards. “In order for real transformation to happen, actions need to be taken at every level of government, and I am grateful for Representative Kilmer’s leadership on issues like this that are of deep importance to our community.”
TheGeorge Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2020:
- Works to End Racial & Religious Profiling
- Prohibits federal, state, and local law enforcement from racial, religious and discriminatory profiling.
- Mandates training on racial, religious, and discriminatory profiling for all law enforcement.
- Requires law enforcement to collect data on all investigatory activities.
Saves Lives by Banning Chokeholds & No-Knock Warrants
- Bans chokeholds and carotid holds
- Bans 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. Changes the standard to evaluate whether law enforcement use of force was justified from whether the force was “reasonable” to whether the force was “necessary.” Conditions grants on state and local law enforcement agencies’ establishing the same use of force standard.
Limits Military Equipment on American Streets
- Limits the transfer of military-grade equipment to state and local law enforcement.
Improves Police Accountability
- Makes it easier to prosecute offending officers by amending the federal criminal statute to prosecute police misconduct.
- Enables individuals to recover damages in civil court when law enforcement officers violate their constitutional rights by eliminating qualified immunity for law enforcement.
Enhances Investigation of Police Misconduct
- Requires federal uniformed police officers to wear body cameras and requires state and local law enforcement to use existing federal funds to ensure the use of police body cameras.
- Requires marked federal police vehicles to have dashboard cameras.
- 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.
- Studies the impact of laws or rules that allow a law enforcement officer to delay answers to questions posed by investigators of law enforcement misconduct.
- Enhances funding for pattern and practice discrimination investigations and programs managed by the DOJ Community Relations Service.
- Requires the Attorney General to collect data on investigatory actions and detentions by federal law enforcement agencies; the racial distribution of drug charges; the use of deadly force by and against law enforcement officers; as well as traffic and pedestrian stops and detentions.
- Establishes a DOJ task force to coordinate the investigation, prosecution and enforcement efforts of federal, state and local governments in cases related to law enforcement misconduct.
Empowers Our Communities to Reimagine Public Safety in an Equitable and Just Way
- Reinvests in our communities by supporting community-based programs to change the culture of law enforcement and empower our communities to reimagine public safety in an equitable and just way.
- 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. These local commissions would operate similarly to President Obama’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing.
Enhances Law Enforcement Training to Build Integrity and Trust
- Requires the creation of law enforcement accreditation standard recommendations based on President Obama’s Taskforce on 21st Century policing.
- Creates law enforcement development and training programs to develop best practices.
Improves Transparency by Collecting Data on Police Misconduct and Use-of-Force
- Creates a nationwide police misconduct registry to prevent problematic officers who are fired or leave one agency, from moving to another jurisdiction without any accountability.
- Mandates state and local law enforcement agencies to report use of force data, disaggregated by race, sex, disability, religion, age.
Makes Lynching a Federal Crime
- Makes it a federal crime to conspire to violate existing federal hate crimes laws.
The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2020 is supported by a coalition of civil rights organizations including: Demand Progress, Lawyers’ Committee For Civil Rights Under Law, Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, National Action Network, National African American Clergy Network, 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.
Joint Statement from Key Civil Rights Groups: NAACP; National Urban League; National Action Network; National Coalition on Black Civic Participation & Black Women’s Roundtable; Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law; The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights; NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc.:“We support Congress taking an important step toward police accountability by introducing the Justice in Policing Act. In the aftermath of the recent police killings of Black people, we sent Congress a strong police accountability framework that is reflected in this legislation. The bill takes on critical issues such as redefining police misconduct, establishing a national use of force standard, increasing the U.S. Department of Justice’s authority to prosecute misconduct by law enforcement officers, and more. This legislation makes clear that police brutality, misconduct, harassment, and killing have no place in America. Many provisions in the bill reflect the insights of national and local civil rights organizations that have worked for years on these issues. As the bill advances toward passage, we will continue to work to improve it to ensure that real and meaningful change is achieved. We express appreciation to Speaker Pelosi, Leader Schumer, Congressional Black Caucus Chair Bass, Chairman Nadler, and Senators Booker and Harris, for their leadership to quickly and substantively meet this moment and address this pressing issue. If Congress truly represents the will of the people, they must take action swiftly to ensure equality and justice for all.”
Full text of the legislation is available here.
A fact sheet on the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2020 is available here.
Rep. Kilmer’s Justice in Policing town hall with Congressional Black Caucus Chairwoman Karen Bass can be viewed here.