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Congresswoman Brenda Lawrence

Representing the 14th District of Michigan

U.S. Rep. Lawrence Votes to Pass George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, Transformational Criminal Justice Reform

March 3, 2021
Press Release

Washington, DC - Today, U.S. Representative Brenda L. Lawrence (MI-14) voted to pass H.R. 1280, the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, a comprehensive plan to address systemic racism and bias in policing toward the Black community. This is the first-ever bold, comprehensive approach to hold police accountable, end racial profiling, change the culture of law enforcement, empower our communities, and build trust between law enforcement and our communities. This legislation is identical to the one that the House passed on June 25, 2020, in a bipartisan vote.

“At the height of the peaceful protests last summer, we heard over and over again that our nation was at a crossroads. Tonight, I joined my colleagues in the House of Representatives on a path toward justice and equality for everyone. We voted to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act because we’ve lost too many Black and Brown lives as a result of unnecessary, excessive force used by police officers.

“As the second vice-chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, I worked with my colleagues to craft this transformational legislation that curbs police brutality, increases accountability and transparency, and restores the trust between our law enforcement and the communities they serve and protect. This bill is long overdue. My colleagues and I are listening and acting on the nation-wide calls for change, and now it is time for the Senate to answer those calls and pass this bill. Tonight’s House vote sends a clear message that Black lives do matter.”

The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act will:

Work to End Racial & Religious Profiling

  • Prohibits federal, state, and local law enforcement from racial, religious, and discriminatory profiling.
  • Mandates training on racial, religious, and discriminatory profiling for all law enforcement.
  • Requires law enforcement to collect data on all investigatory activities.

Save Lives by Banning Chokeholds & No-Knock Warrants

  • Bans chokeholds and carotid holds at the federal level and conditions law enforcement funding for state and local governments banning chokeholds.
  • Bans no-knock warrants in drug cases at the federal level and conditions law enforcement funding for state and local governments banning no-knock warrants at the local and state level.
  • Requires that deadly force be used only as a last resort and requires officers to employ de-escalation techniques first. Changes the standard to evaluate whether law enforcement use of force was justified from whether the force was “reasonable” to whether the force was “necessary.” Condition grants on state and local law enforcement agencies’ establishing the same use of force standard.

Limit Military Equipment on American Streets & Requires Body Cameras

  • Limits the transfer of military-grade equipment to state and local law enforcement.
  • Requires federal uniformed police officers to wear body cameras and requires state and local law enforcement to use existing federal funds to ensure the use of police body cameras.
  • Requires marked federal police vehicles to have dashboard cameras.

 

Hold Police Accountable in Court

  • Makes it easier to prosecute offending officers by amending the federal criminal statute to prosecute police misconduct. The mens rea requirement in 18 U.S.C. Section 242 will be amended from “willfulness” to a “recklessness” standard.
  • Enables individuals to recover damages in civil court when law enforcement officers violate their constitutional rights by eliminating qualified immunity for law enforcement.

Investigate Police Misconduct

  • 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.

Empower Our Communities to Reimagine Public Safety in an Equitable and Just Way

  • This bill reinvests in our communities by supporting critical community-based programs to change the culture of law enforcement and empower our communities to reimagine public safety in an equitable and just way.
  • It 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. These local commissions would operate similar to President Obama’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing.

 

Change the Culture of Law Enforcement with Training to Build Integrity and Trust

  • Requires the creation of law enforcement accreditation standard recommendations based on President Obama’s Taskforce on 21st Century policing.
  • Creates law enforcement development and training programs to develop best practices.
  • Studies the impact of laws or rules that allow a law enforcement officer to delay answers to questions posed by investigators of law enforcement misconduct.
  • Enhances funding for pattern and practice discrimination investigations and programs managed by the DOJ Community Relations Service.
  • Requires the Attorney General to collect data on investigatory actions and detentions by federal law enforcement agencies; the racial distribution of drug charges; the use of deadly force by and against law enforcement officers; as well as traffic and pedestrian stops and detentions.
  • Establishes a DOJ task force to coordinate the investigation, prosecution and enforcement efforts of federal, state and local governments in cases related to law enforcement misconduct.

Improve Transparency by Collecting Data on Police Misconduct and Use-of-Force

  • Creates a nationwide police misconduct registry to prevent problematic officers who are fired or leave one agency, from moving to another jurisdiction without any accountability.
  • Mandates state and local law enforcement agencies to report use of force data, disaggregated by race, sex, disability, religion, age.

Stop Sexual Assault in Law Enforcement Custody

  • Makes it a crime for a federal law enforcement officer to engage in a sexual act with an individual who is under arrest, in detention, or in custody. It prohibits consent as a defense to prosecution for unlawful conduct. Incentivizes states to set the same standards