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Yarmuth, Congressional Democrats Introduce Comprehensive Policing Reform Legislation to Address Misconduct, Racial Bias

WASHINGTON– Today, Congressman John Yarmuth (KY-3) joined with more than 200 members of the House and Senate in introducing the Justice in Policing Act of 2020, sweeping legislation to reform policing, address police misconduct, and combat racial bias in our justice system. Yarmuth is an original cosponsor of the bicameral legislation.

Among the many reforms found within the package, the legislation includes an end to no-knock warrants in drug cases, bans the use of chokeholds, reforms qualified immunity, and incentivizes states to create independent investigative processes for police-involved deaths.

“People in Louisville and across our nation are fed up—they’ve taken to the streets to make their voices heard in calling for equal justice for all, and today is a monumental day in that fight,” said Yarmuth. “I am proud to support the Justice in Policing Act and believe it is a strong step forward in bringing about real change in policing and providing a much-needed level of accountability for the American people. I’ve promised my constituents that I will use my voice, my time, and my vote to implement policies that adequately reflect the core truth that Black Lives Matter. Without structural change, our justice system will sadly continue to unfairly steal the lives and livelihoods of Black Americans. We have to change. I call on Senator Mitch McConnell to join with Congressional Democrats in calling for swift passage of this legislation.”

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 Taskforce 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.

Full text of the Justice in Policing Act of 2020 can be found here, a fact sheet can be found here, and a section-by-section summary can be found here.

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