Democratic senators introduced the Justice in Policing Act of 2020 this week, aiming to improve national police training, accountability, and transparency.
Colorado Senator Michael Bennet and Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Kamala Harris (D-CA) introduced the legislation.
It also received general support from Democrats and civil rights organizations such as National Action Network and The National Coalition on Black Civic Participation (NCBCP).
“This week, I returned to work in a capitol building whose stones were placed by enslaved human beings,” Bennet wrote in an open letter to Coloradans. “American slavery is not ancient history… We will never heal as a country until we fully confront and dismantle the systemic racism that plagues every aspect of our society.”
“As a white male and a United States Senator, it is my duty to use my platform and position to do this,” Bennet said.
The Justice in Policing Act is the most comprehensive bill on police accountability in U.S. history, according to proponents who say the legislation responds to the death of George Floyd and the demands of subsequent protests to improve policing standards.
The legislation has four main components: legal accountability, improving transparency through data, better police training, and making lynching a federal crime.
First, it reforms police legal immunity and increase the prosecution power of the Department of Justice. This would make it easier for legal authorities to investigate and prosecute behavioral violations of police officers.
Second, it demands more data on police conduct to improve transparency. Under the Act, police departments would be required to report any use of force.
Finally, the bill seeks to improve police training and lower the use of force. The police are to end racial and religious profiling and are directed to intervene against racist behaviors by fellow officers.
Additionally, the Act bans the use of chokeholds. It also requires federal police officers to wear body cameras when in action.
President Trump and other Republicans appear to be skeptical.
In a tweet, Trump accused the Democrats of dismantling law and order with legislation limiting the power of the police. Democrats have accused Trump of violating law and order himself, including by recently by tear-gassing peaceful protesters to clear a path for him to take a photo in front of a D.C. church.
Again, there is a strong partisan divide on the issue.
Democrats are mostly calling for reforms to police policies while Republicans prefer the status quo.
“We cannot settle for anything less than transformative, structural change,” said house speaker Nancy Pelosi at the press conference to unveil the Act. “That is what we are doing today. This is a first step. There is more to come.”