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Senate Republicans Unveil “Justice Act” Police Reform Legislation

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Yesterday President Donald Trump signed an executive order on law enforcement reform and called for law enforcement agencies to ban chokeholds “except if an officer’s life is at risk.” The executive order touches on use of force practices, information sharing to track officers with repeated complaints against them, and federal incentives to deploy non-police experts on issues related to mental health, homelessness, and addiction.

Today, Senate Republicans unveiled “Justice Act” police reform legislation that builds on Trump’s executive order.

As reported by Fox News:

[The legislation would] hold officers accountable with an enhanced use-of-force database, pursue restrictions on chokeholds and create new commissions to study law enforcement and race.

Tim Scott, the lone African-American GOP senator, spearheaded the legislation in the wake of George Floyd’s death and nationwide protests demanding racial justice.

Scott was joined by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., Sens. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., John Cornyn, R-Texas, Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., James Lankford, R-Okla. and Ben Sasse, R-Neb. to unveil the legislation. The package of reforms is called the Just and Unifying Solutions to Invigorate Communities Everywhere (JUSTICE) Act.

Democrats have already unveiled their police reform legislation that’s called the Justice in Policing Act. That legislation would lower the bar for police officers to face criminal prosecution by allowing charges not just in cases where alleged misconduct was intentional, but also in cases of reckless misconduct. It would also ban chokeholds, create a national database of cops who committed misconduct, boost police training and reform qualified immunity that can protect cops from lawsuits from victims of police brutality.

Notably, Scott’s bill doesn’t ban chokeholds outright. While chokeholds aren’t banned outright, the bill would encourage agencies to do away with them – or risk losing federal funds. The bill also provides funding for de-escalation training.

The bill would increase requirements for law enforcement to compile use of force reports, and to track no-knock warrants. The bill, in line with the White House’s stance, doesn’t end qualified immunity.

Some other parts of the bill include:

A mix of other proposals, including tapping the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture to create a law enforcement training curriculum on “the history of racism in the United States.” Another closes a loophole to prohibit federal law enforcement officers from engaging in sexual acts with those being arrested or in custody.

If passed, any expenditures resulting from the bill would be classified as being on an “emergency basis,” allowing them to evade spending caps by not counting against federal deficits.

Photos by Getty Images

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