Make Them Hear You! is a weekly feature on KGNU, produced by Chris Mohr, letting listeners know how they can have their voices heard on issues up before Congress. You can hear it Wednesday mornings at 8.20am during the Morning Magazine.
As Colorado representative Diana DeGette has said, Far too many Black lives have been cut short, and far too many families and entire communities have suffered because of police violence.
After the Black Lives Matter movement reemerged, The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act was one of the reforms proposed. After being stonewalled by the McConnell-led Senate, the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act now has a chance to become a reality. When passed, this bill will set basic federal law enforcement standards, mandate body cameras for federal officers, reduce profiling, apply consequences in cases of police misconduct — and be a step in building trust and confidence in our systems.
The first section of the bill deals with police accountability. It seeks to change the qualified immunity doctrine, which currently prevents people from recovering damages when law enforcement officers violate their constitutional rights. The law would also provide grants to state attorneys general to conduct pattern and practice investigations and to create independent investigations processes for law enforcement misconduct or excessive use of force, implement more uniform standards for best practices and community accountability, require attorneys general to collect data on a number of police interactions including investigatory actions and detentions by federal law enforcement agencies, the racial distribution of drug charges, use of deadly force by and against law enforcement officers, and traffic and pedestrian stops and detentions.
The second section of the bill deals with policing transparency through data, creating a federal registry that would include misconduct complaints, discipline records, and termination records. The bill would also require states to report to the Justice Department any incident in which force is used against a civilian or against a law enforcement officer.
The third section of the bill focuses on improving police training and policies. The law would mandate officers receive training on racial, religious, and discriminatory profiling. It would also require law enforcement agencies to submit investigatory data to the Justice Department.
The bill seeks to ban the use of chokeholds and change the use of force standard for federal officers from reasonableness to only when necessary to prevent death or serious bodily injury. The bill limits the transfer of military-grade equipment to state and local law enforcement, requires federal uniformed police to wear body cameras, and mandates all marked federal police vehicles have dashboard cameras.
The fourth section of the bill would make it a federal crime to conspire to violate existing hate crimes laws and would make lynching a federal hate crime.
If you have thoughts on the Senate bringing the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act to a vote, you can contact your Senators.