Comprehensive Legislation Aims to Fundamentally Transform the Culture of Policing in America and Change Law Enforcement Policies to Hold Officers Accountable for Dangerous Behavior

June 8, 2020, Washington D.C. – Congresswoman Katherine Clark (MA-5), Vice Chair of the House Democratic Caucus, joined the Congressional Black Caucus as an original co-sponsor of the Justice in Policing Act, historic new legislation introduced today to address systemic racism in police departments across the country, hold officers accountable to the communities they serve, and end police brutality in America. 

“This past week, millions of people marched together across America and around the world with one unifying message: Black lives matter. Acknowledgement and empathy are necessary steps our society must take to confront systemic racism, but much more will be required of us to bring about real systemic change,” said Congresswoman Clark. “For centuries, our policing laws and practices have traumatized Black communities and shielded law enforcement from accountability. We must change the policies at the root of these racial inequities so that every mom and spouse has the same assumption of safety for their family that I have for mine. We must finally let equality, not privilege, lead the way. I’m proud to support this historic legislation to end the neglect and put our nation on the path toward justice.” 

The 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.

Full text of the legislation is available here.

A section-by-section summary of the Justice in Policing Act of 2020 is available here.

A fact sheet on the Justice in Policing Act of 2020 is available here