Editorial: Congress, pass Justice in Policing Act now

Posted June 9, 2020 5:00 a.m. EDT
Updated June 9, 2020 6:48 a.m. EDT

CBC Editorial: Tuesday, June 8, 2020; Editorial #8550
The following is the opinion of Capitol Broadcasting Company.

This is a time for action and legislation introduced in Congress Monday offers the nation’s members of the House of Representatives and Senate the opportunity to act to address systemic racism in law enforcement. The Justice in Policing Act of 2020 looks to address the use of excessive force by establishing national standards of conduct; make it easier for citizens to track and address officer misconduct and limits the transfer of military-grade equipment to state and local law enforcement agencies.

Nothing in the legislation makes the job of law enforcement officers more difficult or limits their ability to protect the public. It will protect the public from being victims of inappropriate and improper use of force, from being victims of racial profiling and discrimination and enable citizens to make and prove complaints of improper police conduct.

Reps. G.K. Butterfield, Alma Adams and David Price, all North Carolina Democrats, have all signed-on as co-sponsors of the bill. North Carolina’s Republicans in the House – Dan Bishop, Ted Budd, Virginia Foxx, George Holding, Richard Hudson, Greg Murphy, David Rouser, Mark Walker and Patrick McHenry – need to join them in support of the bill. The House will hold hearings on the bill on Wednesday.

The bill is set to come before the Senate Judiciary Committee next week. Sen. Thom Tillis, the North Carolina Republican who serves on the committee and rarely missed an opportunity to boast of his claims to bipartisanship, should live up to his rhetoric and announce his support for the bill. North Carolina’s other Republican in the Senate, Richard Burr, needs to affirm his support, too.

The common-sense reforms in this legislation are both long overdue and directly respond to the abuses that sparked protests across the nation and brought out diverse crowds in dozens of North Carolina communities – rural and urban, large and small – demanding change.

“Black lives can’t wait until the next election,” Rep. Adams said. “Congress must take urgent action to address the epidemic of police brutality against Americans. This bill does that.”

Rep. Price said he was joining with the Congressional Black Caucus to be an original sponsor of the bill. “This legislation is a consequential first step to addressing police misconduct and moving toward racial justice in America.”

Key provision of the legislation would:

  • Ban chokeholds and no-knock warrants by federal law enforcement and make federal funding of local police agencies depend upon adoption of similar rules.
  • Limit the transfer of military-grade equipment to state and local law enforcement agencies.
  • Revise the standard justification on use of deadly force from whether it was “reasonable” to whether it was “necessary.”
  • Require training on racial, religious and discriminatory profiling for all law enforcement.
  • Require the collection of data on investigations into illegal or inappropriate police actions.
  • Establish public safety innovation grants to examine, revise and institute appropriate public safety strategies.
  • Establish a law enforcement accreditation standard and develop law enforcement training programs for best practices.
  • Make lynching a federal crime.

The time is NOW for action to start fixing our broken policing system and restore faith in all law enforcement agencies and the people who work for them.

For more information on the Justice in Policing Act of 2020, you can find:

  • Full text here.
  • A section-by-section summary here.
  • A fact sheet here.

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