WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Tina Smith (D-MN) joined colleagues in the House and Senate to introduce comprehensive police reform legislation, the Justice in Policing Act of 2020. The bill works to end the racist and excessively violent policing in our communities by banning dangerous practices like chokeholds and no-knock warrants, prohibiting racial profiling and requiring transparency about police activities, and reducing the barriers to holding police officers accountable for misconduct and violence.
“As George Floyd’s murder and countless other national tragedies have made clear, we must take action to fix a broken system and the Justice in Policing Act is an important step,” said Klobuchar. “I was proud to work with Senators Booker and Harris along with many others on this bill that will make crucial reforms, such as empowering state Attorneys General to conduct investigations at local police departments, banning police use of chokeholds, and requiring police departments to report data on the use of force. Communities of color have experienced injustice for far too long. We must act now.”
“In order to honor George Floyd, Philando Castile, and all the names we don’t know because their deaths were not captured on video, we must change systems that perpetuate injustice,” said Smith. “We cannot squander this moment, and we need transformative change. The bill I helped introduce today would reform qualified immunity, ban chokeholds, and limit military-grade equipment from going to state and local law enforcement. These are steps we need to take in Minnesota, and in every state across America. We all must rise to the call to action, and these changes are long, long, long overdue. We cannot look away and allow injustice to continue.”
Following the murder of George Floyd, Klobuchar and Smith led 26 of their colleagues in calling on the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice (DOJ) to conduct an investigation into the Minneapolis Police Department.
Full text of the bill is available here.
Specifically, the Justice in Policing Act of 2020 would
- Hold police accountable in our courts by:
- Amending the mens rea requirement in 18 U.S.C. Section 242, the federal criminal statute to prosecute police misconduct, from “willfulness” to a “recklessness” standard;
- Reforming qualified immunity, a legal doctrine that as currently interpreted shields law enforcement officers from being held legally liable for violating an individual’s constitutional rights.
- Improving the use of pattern and practice investigations at the federal level by granting the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division subpoena power and incentivizing state attorneys general to conduct pattern and practice investigations;
- Incentivizing states to create independent investigative structures for police involved deaths through grants; and
- Creating best practices recommendations based on President Obama’s 21st Century Policing Task Force.
- Improve transparency into policing by collecting better and more accurate data of police misconduct and use-of-force by:
- Creating a National Police Misconduct Registry to prevent problem-officers from changing jurisdictions to avoid accountability; and
- Mandating state and local law enforcement agencies report use of force data, disaggregated by race, sex, disability, religion, age.
- Improve police training and practices by:
- Ending racial and religious profiling;
- Mandating training on racial bias and the duty to intervene;
- Banning no-knock warrants in drug cases;
- Banning chokeholds and carotid holds;
- Changing the standard to evaluate whether law enforcement use of force was justified from whether the force was reasonable to whether the force was necessary;
- Limiting the transfer of military-grade equipment to state and local law enforcement;
- Requiring federal uniformed police officers to wear body cameras; and
- Requiring state and local law enforcement to use existing federal funds to ensure the use of police body camera
- Make lynching a federal crime by:
- Making it a federal crime to conspire to violate existing federal hate crimes laws.