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Dingell Puts Support Behind Police Reform Legislation

Washington, June 8, 2020

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Congresswoman Debbie Dingell (D-MI) cosponsored police reform legislation introduced by Congressional Black Caucus Chair Karen Bass (D-CA), Senators Corey Booker (D-NJ) and Kamala Harris (D-CA), and House Judiciary Committee Chair Jerry Nadler (D-NY). 

The Justice in Policing Act of 2020 is comprehensive legislation to reform police actions and track and hold police accountable for misconduct. 

“We as a country must acknowledge the need for change to create a future that is inclusive, just, with equality for all and free of hatred and fear,” said Dingell. “This starts with addressing the systematic barriers facing Black and minority communities and the resulting inequities in health, housing, education, along with racism and a broken justice system. There is a lot of work before us. The Justice in Policing Act is commonsense change that beings to strengthen trust between our communities and those whose job it is to keep us safe. It is equally critical that we hold anyone who breaches this sacred trust accountable for their actions. This bill is a first step in putting action with our words.”

 The Justice in Policing Act of 2020 will:

  • 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;
    • 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.
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