Democrats introduced a sweeping overhaul of police procedures Monday that would hold officers more accountable for misconduct as protests over police brutality stemming from the death of George Floyd continued across the nation.
The Justice in Policing Act of 2020 would ban the use of chokeholds and certain no-knock warrants, create a national police misconduct registry and would require the use of body cameras. It would also change “qualified immunity,” a legal statute that shields public officials from civil lawsuits unless their conduct violates “clearly established law” or constitutional rights.
“We cannot settle for anything less than transformative structural change,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said while unveiling the bill alongside top Democrats and members of the Congressional Black Caucus.
House and Senate Democrats held a moment of silence in the Capitol, reading the names of George Floyd and others killed during police interactions. They knelt for 8 minutes and 46 seconds, the length of time prosecutors say Floyd, a black man, was pinned down by a white officer’s knee.
U.S. Rep. Stephen Lynch, D-Mass., an original cosponsor of the bill, called it “the first ever comprehensive legislation that will help repair the relationship” between law enforcement and the communities they serve, and said it will “help build trust between the public and the police department by mandating additional training for local law enforcement.”
U.S. Rep. Katherine Clark, D-Mass., said in a statement, “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.”
U.S. Rep. Lori Trahan, D-Mass., tweeted, “For too long, apathy & inaction have stood in the way of changing how law enforcement treats black & brown Americans. No more.”
The legislation faces an uphill battle in the Republican-controlled Senate. It also does not go so far as to “defund the police” — a rallying cry among some activists that has emerged from the recent protests in which demonstrators want law enforcement funds shifted toward services that can better help black people dealing with systemic racism.
Original story here.