Rep. Johnson’s Reform Policies Included in House Leadership’s Justice in Policing Act
June 8, 2020
Congressman’s call to de-militarize police, hold officers more accountable wrapped into the most comprehensive police reform legislative package in nation’s history
WASHINGTON, D.C. – This morning, Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) Secretary Congressman Hank Johnson (GA-04) joined CBC Chair Karen Bass, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, Sens. Chuck Schumer, Kamala Harris and Corey Booker and several other Congressional colleagues on Capitol Hill to unveil the Justice in Policing Act of 2020 legislation to rein in police violence and rebuild trust between law enforcement and our communities.
Congressman Johnson was the first member of Congress to introduce The Stop Militarizing Law Enforcement Act in 2014 during the unrest surrounding the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. Among other transparency measures, his bill prevents transfers of military grade equipment, such as long-range acoustic devices, grenade launchers, weaponized drones, armored military vehicles and grenades to police departments and campus police across the country.
He also filed The Police Accountability Act (H.R. 5777) and the Grand Jury Reform Act (H.R. 5779). These measures would give the Department of Justice (DOJ) jurisdiction to bring charges against an officer if a state fails to do so, when a civilian is wrongfully killed by the officer in the line of duty and would require the appointment of a special prosecutor to investigate cases where law enforcement officers have wrongfully killed an individual in the line of duty. Congressman Johnson has also introduced the Cooling Off Period Elimination Act (H.R. 5778), which would eliminate so-called “cooling-off periods” for police officers charged with misconduct.
In addition to the push to demilitarize police, the Justice in Policing Act of 2020 includes:
• Mandatory bias training to receive federal funding;
• A ban on chokeholds;
• Reform for qualified immunity so that individuals are not entirely barred from recovering damages when police violate their constitutional rights;
• Creation of a national registry of police officers who abuse their power;
• Bans racial profiling;
• Incentivizes national accreditation standards on use of force and other best policing practices;
• Facilitates the prosecution of officers that deprive citizens of constitutional rights;
• Requires collection of data regarding incidents where officers use force against civilians;
• Incentivizes states and localities to develop innovative approaches to law enforcement that de-emphasize use of force;
“Persistent, unchecked bias in policing and a history of lack of accountability is wreaking havoc on the Black community," said Johnson. “Cities are literally on fire with the pain and anguish wrought by the violence visited upon black and brown bodies. George Floyd. Breonna Taylor. Eric Garner. Michael Brown. Tamir Rice. Sandra Bland. Ahmaud Arbery. There are countless others whose stories we will never know.”
“While there is no single policy prescription that will erase the decades of systemic racism and excessive policing – it’s time we create structural change with meaningful reforms.”