Spearheaded by Congresswoman Karen Bass (D-CA), the “George Floyd Justice in Policing Act” has been at the forefront of the Democratic legislative agenda for months. Democrats have applauded the reform bill, presenting it as the only way of achieving real change in terms of combating so-called police brutality or systemic racism.
“Last summer, hundreds of thousands demanded change that ends police brutality, holds police officers accountable and calls for transparency in our system of policing,” Bass said in a statement after reintroducing the House bill in February. “Due to inaction, more than 100 unarmed people have been killed or brutalized by police since then. For more than 100 years, Black communities in America have sadly been marching against police abuse and calling for the police to protect and serve us as they do others. Last year, the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act passed the House of Representatives with bipartisan support but was neglected in the Senate and by the White House.”
“After we marched, we voted, and today we re-introduce the bill with renewed hope that it will become law. Never again should an unarmed individual be murdered or brutalized by someone who is supposed to serve and protect them,” she continued. “Never again should a family have to watch the murder of their loved one over and over again on the TV. Never again should the world be subject to witnessing what we saw happen to George Floyd in the streets in Minnesota.”
Here are the key changes imposed by this bill:
The “George Floyd Justice in Policing Act” changes policing protocols as follows:
- Eliminates “racial, religious, and discriminatory profiling.”
- Bans chokeholds and carotid holds.
- Bans federal no-knock warrants
- Requires dash cams and body cams for federal officers, and directs local law enforcement agencies to use funds towards body cameras
- Places limits on “the transfer of military-grade equipment to state and local law enforcement.”
The “George Floyd Justice in Policing Act” also eliminates “qualified immunity,” which protects civil servants from being personally sued for the alleged violation of another person’s constitutional rights, unless a court ruled those actions were “clearly established” and deemed unconstitutional. Under this bill, this protection would be entirely eliminated for police officers.
National Police Misconduct Registry
The bill also creates a “National Police Misconduct Registry,” to which officers who are fired or placed on leave must be referred. The bill also requires state and federal law enforcement agencies to provide use-of-force data, which is broken down “by race, sex, disability, religion, [and] age.”
Policing task force
In addition, the bill establishes a policing task force that will:
- Develop new law enforcement training requirements.
- Study the impact of laws and how they relate to a “delay [in] answers posed by investigators of law enforcement misconduct.”
- “Coordinate the investigation, prosecution and enforcement efforts of federal, state and local governments in cases related to law enforcement misconduct.”
This version of the bill passed in the House, predominantly along party lines. According to CNN, Reps. Jared Golden (D-ME) and Ron Kind (D-WI), voted against the bill while Rep. Lance Gooden (R-TX) said he accidentally voted in favor of the legislation.
Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC), one of the GOP’s central voices on the subject of police reform, is currently in talks with Bass over changes to the bill, particularly regarding qualified immunity. Scott proposed an alternative idea: instead of eliminating qualified immunity, plaintiffs could bring lawsuits against specific police departments and law enforcement agencies, rather than individual officers.
Beth Baumann is a Political Reporter and Editor at The Daily Wire. Follow her on Twitter @eb454.
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