Congress: Enjoy Your Recess, But Here Are Six Police Reform Bills You Must Pass In September

This week, we continued to mourn the loss of Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, and the Dallas police officers. But the reality is that we've been in mourning for victims of color of police violence for a long time: Anthony Hill (Ga.), Laquan McDonald (Ill.), Freddie Gray (Md.), Aura Rosser (Mich.), Michael Brown (Mo.), Eric Garner (N.Y.), Tamir Rice (Ohio), Walter Scott (S.C.), Sandra Bland (Texas), Antonio Zambrano-Montes (Wash.), and Dontre Hamilton (Wis.).

Members of Congress: These are your constituents. These are lives that matter to families, friends, and communities, and they should matter to you too. This is why we say their names.

We have a crisis on our hands. Excessive violence, including fatal police shootings of people of color, must end. We have been focused on bad apple cops when we really need to focus on reforming an entire system. Fairness and justice demand that we act in this moment.

Congress serves an important function in building trust and legitimacy between law enforcement and the communities they serve. The federal government annually provides billions of dollars and resources to law enforcement and the criminal justice system. Where is the guidance and accountability?

And advancing legislative reform is not an attack on law enforcement. It is clear that current policing strategies are not working. But while the relationship between law enforcement and many communities of color is broken, we have to believe it is not be beyond repair. Both constituencies should want intervention. 

Last week, the ACLU sent a letter requesting that Congress take up six bills that could take the first steps to repair the relationship between community and police:  

The Law Enforcement Trust and Integrity Act (H.R. 2875, S. 2168), sponsored by Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) and Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), provides law enforcement with resources for accreditation, best practices, training, and other resources to increase trust between police and community. The bill also mandates data collection on use of force and other police-community encounters, so the public can begin to know what policing looks like in this country.

The End Racial Profiling Act (H.R. 1933, S. 1056), also introduced by Rep. Conyers and Sen. Cardin, prohibits federal, state, and local law enforcement from engaging in racial profiling and other biased policing. The bill would help law enforcement meet this mandate through training, funding, and data collection. As the Department of Justice formally acknowledged at the end of June, “most people experience some degree of unconscious bias.” Implicit and explicit biases have no place in policing.    

The Preventing Tragedies Between Police and Communities Act (H.R. 5221), sponsored by Rep. Gwen Moore (D-Wis.), would require police to be trained on de-escalation techniques that focus on preserving life. The legislation builds upon Police Executive Research Forum guiding principles on use of force and its belief that “the preservation of life has always been at the heart of American policing.”

The Stop Militarizing Law Enforcement Act (H.R. 1232, S. 1441), offered by Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.) and Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), would prohibit the transfer of some of the most dangerous  military weapons from the federal government to state and local law enforcement. Tanks, grenades, bayonets, and other weapons of war have no business in our communities.      

The Police CAMERA Act (H.R. 1680, S. 877) is sponsored by Rep. Corrine Brown (D-Fla.) and Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) and provides federal resources to state and local law enforcement so they can develop safe and effective body-worn camera programs that also protect civilians’ privacy rights. Communities and law enforcement agree that cameras can be a part of the solution, but they must be implemented the right way.

The DUE PROCESS Act (H.R. 5283, S. 3045) is a response to the controversial practice of civil asset forfeiture from Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) and Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa). The bill levels the playing field for individuals who want to challenge law enforcement’s seizure of their property by providing access to counsel, an increased burden of proof for the government, and other procedural protections.

It’s time that Congress becomes a part of the solution, or it will continue to be a part of the problem. When Congress returns from recess in September, they must get to the business of police reform. 

View comments (18)
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Kenneth Heffley

The one thing the police are not doing is proving any one quilty. Remember the law because these acts were illegal. Not guilty until proven.

Anonymous

Use crowd funding it could help and good luck.

Anonymous

How about a bill to train the ACLU on truth! Michael Brown was the aggressor, why do you continue to report him as a case of police brutality.
Stop the anti police rhetoric!

Kurt

This person is right

Anonymous

Were you there when Michael Brown was killed. You have no idea who was the aggressor...do ya?

Anonymous

Were you there? Then we only have the media reports and what has come out from the court testimony. Published in the Washington Post of all places... 6-8 African American witnesses who support the police version of the incident but are AFRAID to come out in public.... and they are not afraid of the police.

geem0ney

Actually, there was another report that showed pre trial questioning and answers from the officer and in it he states that Mike Brown did not attack him. Another thing you might want to pay attention to in all of the cases of police killing unarmed people of color. Every last one cost the taxpayer money because of payouts for Wrongful Death. You don't pay that out if a crime was committed. Another thing that came out was that there were 2 video tapes and the public only got to see the second one. The first tape shows Michael Brown in the store earlier that day purchasing and then leaving his package with the clerk. You know that stuff he grabbed from someone behind the counter?

Anonymous

The evidence shows that Micheal Brown was the aggressor(Do you really believe that if the evidence showed that the cop was at Fault that the Racist Eric Holder who did not even wait for an investigation before he promised to prosecute), that the fable of hands up don’t shoot was a lie just like with Alton Stirling. Do I feel that the police should be randomly shooting people of any color NO, they do need to be held accountable. But we all need to stick to the facts, do the police have a problem YES and it is not cops against blacks, its cops against every body else. So lets Break this down.
1. The cops need to clean up there act and become responsible adults apart of american society
2. Blacks need to realize that they need to work inside the system, if you fight the cops you give them the ammunition they need to use violence. (example Alton stirling was fight the Cops trying to pull a gun from his pocket result he got shot could it have been handled better, YES by both the cops and Stirling)
3. Those that are promoting the violence the media for ratings, civic leaders that promote the riots and violence for a cause all should be held accountable.

Anonymous

There is absolutely NO EVIDENCE of Michael Brown being an aggressor ... stop lying!!! He was murdered!!!

Anonymous

Alton was unarmed, if police were pinning you down you would squirm too.

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