This bill — known as the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2020 — would implement a number of policies aimed at reforming police practices to reduce the excessive use of force by law enforcement officers. The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act would eliminate qualified immunity; ban chokeholds and no-knock search warrants in drug cases at the federal & incentivize states & localities to do the same through federal grant restrictions; make it easier to prosecute police misconduct; provide law enforcement training in racial bias & the duty to intervene; increase data reporting; ban the transfer of military equipment to law enforcement agencies; and criminalize lynching. A breakdown of this 136 page bill’s provisions can be found below.
Police Misconduct Statute: This section would make it easier to prosecute law enforcement officers for misconduct by changing the current standard from “willful” to “knowingly or with reckless disregard.” It would also define a “death resulting” as any act that was a “substantial factor contributing to the death.”
Qualified Immunity Reform: This section would eliminate the legal doctrine of qualified immunity, which courts have interpreted as barring individuals from recovering damages when law enforcement officers violate their rights unless there was a clearly established legal or constitutional right.
Pattern & Practice Investigations: The Civil Rights Division of the Justice Dept. would be granted subpoena power to conduct pattern & practice investigations into discriminatory & unconstitutional policing practices. This section would also provide grants to state attorneys general to conduct pattern & practice investigations, and $100 million in funding would be authorized for each fiscal year FY2021-FY2023.
Independent Use of Force Reviews: A grant program would be created for state attorneys general to create an independent investigation process for law enforcement misconduct or excessive use of force. There would be $750 million in grant funding authorized for fiscal years 2021-2023 to carry out these reviews.
Law Enforcement Trust & Integrity Act: The Attorney General would be required to create law enforcement accreditation standards based on the Obama administration’s Taskforce on 21st Century policing. It would create law enforcement development programs to develop best practices in policing. The impact of any rule, law, or procedure that allows a law enforcement officer to unreasonably or arbitrarily delay answering the questions of investigators probing police misconduct would be studied.
Additionally, this section would require the Attorney General to collect data on investigatory actions & detentions by federal law enforcement agencies; the racial distribution of drug charges; the use of deadly force by and against law enforcement officers; and traffic & pedestrian stops & detentions. A DOJ task force would be established to coordinate the investigation, prosecution, and enforcement efforts of federal, state, and local governments in cases related to law enforcement misconduct. This section would authorize $25 million in grant funding for FY2021 to cover additional expenses incurred in carrying out this section, plus $3.3 million for expenses related to conflict resolution.
A pilot program would be established to allow law enforcement agencies to use existing federal grants to promote demographic diversity in agencies' hiring practices.
National Police Misconduct Registry: A national registry of all federal, state, and local law enforcement officers would compile misconduct complaints (pending, sustained, and exonerated), discipline records, termination records, and records of certification. Law enforcement agencies would be required to ensure that all officers hired are certified within the state.
Police Reporting Information Data & Evidence Act: States & localities would be required to report to the Justice Dept. any incident where use of force occurs against a civilian or against a law enforcement officer, or face a 10% reduction in federal grant funding for that fiscal year. The reports would be required to include the national origin, sex, race, ethnicity, age, disability, English language proficiency, and housing status of each civilian against whom a law enforcement officer used force; and the reason force was used. Technical assistance grants would be made available for law enforcement agencies that employ less than 100 people to help comply with this bill’s requirements.
End Religious & Racial Profiling Act: This section would prohibit federal, state, and local law enforcement from racial, religious, and discriminatory profiling and create a cause of action for declaratory or injunctive relief in cases of profiling. Law enforcement would be required to provide training on racial, religious, and discriminatory profiling.
Law enforcement agencies would be required to collect data on all investigatory activities and submit that data to the Justice Dept. in a standardized form. Federal funding to state & local law enforcement would be conditioned on the adoption of policies to combat racial, religious, and discriminatory profiling along with the establishment of best practices to discourage profiling. The Attorney General would be required to provide reports on racial, religious, and discriminatory profiling and ongoing efforts to combat profiling.
Training on Racial Bias & Duty to Intervene: A training program for law enforcement officers would be established that covers racial bias, implicit bias, procedural justice, and the duty to intervene to prevent incidents of law enforcement using excessive force. Training would be mandatory at federal law enforcement agencies, while federal funding to state & local agencies would be conditioned on the establishment of training.
Banning No-Knock Warrants in Drug Cases: The use of no-knock search warrants in drug cases investigated by federal agencies would be prohibited. Federal grants for state & local law enforcement agencies would be conditioned on those agencies prohibiting no-knock search warrants in drug cases.
Banning Chokeholds: The use of chokeholds & carotid holds would be banned at the federal level. Federal grant funding for state & local law enforcement agencies would be conditioned on the establishment of a law in that jurisdiction prohibiting the use of chokeholds & carotid holds.
Police Exercising Absolute Care with Everyone (PEACE) Act: The use of force standard for federal officers would be changed from reasonableness to only when necessary to prevent death or serious bodily injury. This section would require that deadly force only be used as a last resort, and require officers to employ de-escalation techniques. Federal grants to state & local law enforcement agencies would be conditioned on those use of force standards.
Stop Militarizing Law Enforcement Act: This section would limit the transfer of military-grade equipment to state & local law enforcement by restricting purchases for counterdrug & border security activities, and only allowing such purchases for counterterrorism. It would prohibit transfers of controlled firearms, ammunition, bayonets, grenade launchers, grenades (including stun & flash-bang), and explosive; armored vehicles such as MRAPs; silencers; drones that have no established commercial flight application or are combat configured or coded; and long-range acoustic devices.
Federal Police Camera and Accountability Act & Police Camera Act: Federal uniformed police officers would be required to wear body cameras and marked federal police vehicles would be required to have dashboard cameras. The Government Accountability Office would study federal police officers' training, vehicle pursuits, and use of force interactions with the public.
This section would also require state & local law enforcement agencies to use existing federal funds to ensure the use of police body cameras.Justice for Victims of Lynching Act: This section would make lynching a federal crime that automatically warrants an enhanced sentence under existing federal hate crime laws, punishable by a sentence of up to 10 additional years imprisonment. It wouldn’t preclude murder charges from being filed, which can already be brought under existing law.