Rep. Peters Joins Colleagues to Introduce Justice in Policing Act of 2020
Today, Rep. Scott Peters (CA-52) joined his colleagues, as an original co-sponsor, to introduce the Justice in Policing Act of 2020, legislation that takes first steps in addressing systemic racial injustice in the American policing system. This comes two weeks after the killing of George Floyd, which spurred nationwide civil unrest calling for comprehensive policing reform.
“The nation is calling on us to seize this moment and address our dark history of racism and violence against African Americans. History will remember our response. We must fix this now," said Rep. Peters. “I'm just sorry it didn't happen soon enough to save George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Eric Garner and the other victims of police excessive use of force that haven’t made headlines."
The Justice in Policing Act of 2020 will:
- Hold police accountable. The bill seeks to:
- Amend 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;
- Reform qualified immunity so that individuals are not entirely barred from recovering damages when police violate their constitutional rights;
- Improve 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;
- Incentivize states to create independent investigative structures for police involved deaths through grants; and
- Create best practices recommendations based on the Obama 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
- Mandate 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 cameras.
- Make lynching a federal crime by:
- Making it a federal crime to conspire to violate existing federal hate crimes laws.
Rep. Peters continued, "While I think there is still work to do to get this right, I'm an original co-sponsor because we need to start somewhere and I also want to send a message to Black Americans, and all Americans who care about justice and equality in this country, that I stand with them and for reform.”
Rep. Peters said he's been speaking with former and current law enforcement officials over the past several days to talk about these reforms and other internal changes needed.
“I have for years, as a local elected official and in Congress, stood with law enforcement and I continue to believe that most cops are good people and became officers to protect and serve our communities. My message to them is we need your help. Let's fix this together."