After two weeks of protests for racial justice, the movement seems to be taking hold in governments of cities such as Minneapolis and Los Angeles where propositions for police defunding and stricter police regulation are gaining momentum. Earlier this week, Democrats in Congress took action and proposed a sweeping bill to reform the police.
The proposed Justice in Policing Act of 2020 includes provisions that would make it easier to prosecute police for misconduct as well as bans on chokeholds. Introduced by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, senators Kamala Harris and Cory Booker, and members of the Congressional Black Caucus, the bill mandates the use of body and car cameras and eliminates “no-knock” warrants.
The bill also makes lynching a federal crime, limits the sale of military-grade weapons to police forces, and gives the Department of Justice the power to investigate state and local police for evidence of misconduct. Lastly, it would create a “national police misconduct registry” to more effectively catalog complaints against police departments and officers. This would prevent an officer from simply moving departments to escape allegations of misconduct.
Unfortunately, Republican members of Congress have been largely quiet on the proposed legislation. Pushing the bill through the democratically held House of Representatives has potential, but getting it through the Senate would be a far more daunting task.
Action towards police reform on the federal level is a sign of progression, but it’s far more likely that significant change will come from local and state action. Check out our article on Minneapolis’s move to defund their police force for examples of meaningful local change.