Cantwell Joins Booker, Harris, Congressional Black Caucus to Introduce Comprehensive Law Enforcement Reform Legislation

Justice in Policing Act of 2020 will hold police accountable, change culture of law enforcement, attempt to build trust between law enforcement & communities; Legislation cosponsored by 35 senators, 166 representatives

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) today joined Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Kamala Harris (D-CA), as well as Congressional Black Caucus Chair Karen Bass (D, CA-37) and House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D, NY-10), to introduce the Justice in Policing Act of 2020. The comprehensive legislation will hold police accountable, change the culture of law enforcement, and attempt to build trust between law enforcement agencies and communities.

Last week, Cantwell spoke on the Senate floor about the need for new federal legislation to protect civil rights and implement important police reforms.

“Americans are telling us we need better laws on the books, and I believe we need to act. It is time that we not just speak out about injustice; it’s time that we pass new federal laws to protect the civil liberties of United States citizens and protect them from these injustices,” Cantwell said.

Specifically, 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 Task force 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;
  • Contains the full text of the “Emmett Till AntiLynching Act,” which makes lynching a federal hate crime.

Cantwell also cosponsored S. 1938, the Police Training and Independent Review Act, legislation introduced by Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) to improve police training and encourage independent, impartial investigations into law enforcement officials’ use of deadly force.

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

Video of Senator Cantwell’s floor speech from last week is available HERE, and audio is available HERE.