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Legislation addresses police reform, restores trust, and provides more transparency

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) today helped introduce the Just and Unifying Solutions to Invigorate Communities Everywhere (JUSTICE) Act as an original cosponsor. The legislation would provide long-term solutions focused on police reform and transparency, while also developing efforts to rectify systemic issues affecting people of color.

“In the wake of the horrific murder of George Floyd, I have been listening for solutions on how to restore necessary trust between the police and the communities they protect. The JUSTICE ACT includes solid reforms to increase accountability in policing, while helping police departments improve their hiring and training processes. By passing this legislation, we can work to heal our nation and ensure that all Americans have equal protection under the law, regardless of skin color,” said Senator Fischer.

More information: 

The full text of the JUSTICE Act is here, and a section by section analysis is here. A summary is below.

Law Enforcement Reform

-          The JUSTICE Act would strengthen the training methods and tactics throughout law enforcement jurisdictions, especially regarding de-escalation of force and the duty to intervene, provide law enforcement with new funding tied to enacting these policies, and incentivize funding to jurisdictions that ban the use of chokeholds.

-          Additionally, the bill would reform hiring and education

practices by providing more resources to ensure the demographic makeup of police departments more closely matches the communities they serve.

-          The JUSTICE Act also would ensure that when a police officer candidate is interviewed, the department looking to hire could access prior disciplinary records.

o   Too often, after a tragic incident, we have learned the offending officer had a disciplinary past in another jurisdiction of which their current employer was unaware.

Accountability

-          Studies show that when body cameras are used properly, violent encounters decrease significantly.

-          The JUSTICE Act would put more body cameras on the streets, and require that departments are using the cameras and storing their video data properly.

-          JUSTICE also would direct the development of best practices for the hiring, firing, suspension, and discipline of law enforcement officers.

Transparency

-          Currently, only about 40 percent of police officers from jurisdictions nationwide report to the FBI after an incident where an officer has discharged his or her weapon, or used force. The bill would require full reporting in these two circumstances.

-          There also is little data as to when, where, and why no-knock warrants are used, and the JUSTICE Act would require reporting when these types of warrants are issued, as well.

Additional Steps

-          The JUSTICE Act would finally make lynching a federal crime, incorporating the Justice for Victims of Lynching Act – which Senator Fischer previously cosponsored.

-          It would create a commission to study and offer solutions to a broader range of challenges facing black men and boys, incorporating the Commission on the Social Status of Black Men and Boys Act – which Senator Fischer previously cosponsored, as well.

-          The bill also would create a second national commission to thoroughly review the criminal justice system and provide best practices recommendations.