House Passes H.R. 1280, the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act

George Floyd

Washington, D.C. – March 4, 2021, the House of Representatives passed the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, by a vote of 220 to 212. The legislation is a bold, comprehensive approach to hold police accountable, change the culture of law enforcement, empower our communities, and build trust between law enforcement and our communities by addressing systemic racism and bias to help save lives.

Under the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, for the first time ever federal law would: 1) ban chokeholds; 2) end racial and religious profiling; 3) eliminate qualified immunity for law enforcement; 4) establish national standard for the operation of police departments; 5) mandate data collection on police encounters; 6) reprogram existing funds to invest in transformative community-based policing programs; and 7) streamline federal law to prosecute excessive force and establish independent prosecutors for police investigations.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler: “Last summer, millions of Americans across the country took to the streets to demand meaningful accountability for officers who commit misconduct. Within weeks the House passed legislation to do just that, but the pleas for justice that rang out in the streets fell on deaf ears in the Senate. Today, the House has taken decisive action once again by passing the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, bold legislation that reimagines how public safety could work in a truly equitable and just way in each community. I want to thank Congresswoman Karen Bass for all her work in crafting this historic, responsible legislation. The Senate must take up this legislation and send it to the President’s desk without delay.”

Congresswoman Karen Bass: “Thirty years ago today, Rodney King was viciously beaten by police officers in Los Angeles. It would be the first time the world would witness what African Americans had been organizing, marching and trying to change for more than 100 years. Personally, I was hopeful that once everyone saw what happens in Black communities, policing in America would change. I was certain no one would deny what they saw with their own eyes and the officers involved would be held accountable for their actions. I was wrong. Now, thirty years later, the United States House of Representatives has voted to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, which is just the first step to transform policing in America by raising the standards for policing in America, and holding officers who fail to uphold the ethic of protecting and serving their communities, accountable. I look forward to working with my colleagues in the Senate and across the aisle to ensure that substantive police reform arrives at the President’s desk.”

The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2021:

  • Prohibits federal, state, and local law enforcement from racial, religious and discriminatory profiling, and mandates training on racial, religious, and discriminatory profiling for all law enforcement.
  • Bans chokeholds, carotid holds and no-knock warrants at the federal level and limits the transfer of military-grade equipment to state and local law enforcement.
  • Mandates the use of dashboard cameras and body cameras for federal offices and requires state and local law enforcement to use existing federal funds to ensure the use of police body cameras.
  • Establishes a National Police Misconduct Registry to prevent problematic officers who are fired or leave on agency from moving to another jurisdiction without any accountability.
  • Amends federal criminal statute from “willfulness” to a “recklessness” standard to successfully identify and prosecute police misconduct.
  • Reforms qualified immunity so that individuals are not barred from recovering damages when police violate their constitutional rights.
  • 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.
  • Creates law enforcement development and training programs to develop best practices and requires the creation of law enforcement accreditation standard recommendations based on President Obama’s Taskforce on 21st Century policing.
  • Requires state and local law enforcement agencies to report use of force data, disaggregated by race, sex, disability, religion, age.
  • 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.
  • Establishes a Department of Justice task force to coordinate the investigation, prosecution and enforcement efforts of federal, state and local governments in cases related to law enforcement misconduct.

Endorsements for the bill include leading civil rights and social justice groups such as the NAACP, National Action Network, Urban League and The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights as well as law enforcement, corporations and business groups, and more. President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and the White House Office of Management and Budget called for House passage of the legislation. The full list of supporters can be found here.

In addition to Bass and Nadler, cosponsors of the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2021 in the House of Representatives are Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD), Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-SC), Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), Pete Aguilar (D-CA), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX), Alma Adams (D-NC), Collin Alred (D-TX), Jake Auchincloss (D-MA), Cindy Axne (D-IA), Nanette Barragán (D-CA), Joyce Beatty (D-OH), Ami Bera (D-CA), Don Beyer (D-VA), Sanford D. Bishop, Jr. (D-GA), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-DE), Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR), Carolyn Bourdeaux (D-GA), Jamaal Bowman (D-NY), Brendan Boyle (D-PA), Anthony G. Brown (D-MD), Julia Brownley (D-CA), G.K. Butterfield (D-NC), Salud Carbajal (D-CA), Tony Cárdenas (D-CA), Andre Carson (D-IN), Matt Cartwright (D-PA), Sean Casten (D-IL), Kathy Castor (D-FL), Joaquin Castro (D-TX), Judy Chu (D-CA), David N. Cicilline (D-RI), Katherine Clark (D-MA), Yvette D. Clarke (D-NY), Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO), Steve Cohen (D-TN), Gerry Connolly (D-VA), Jim Cooper (D-TN), J. Luis Correa (D-CA), Joe Courtney (D-CT), Angie Craig (D-MN), Charlie Crist (D-FL), Jason Crow (D-CO), Henry Cuellar (D-TX), Sharice Davids (D-KS), Danny K. Davis (D-IL), Madeleine Dean (D-PA), Peter DeFazio (D-OR), Diana DeGette (D-CO), Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), Suzan DelBene (D-WA), Antonio Delgado (D-NY), Val B. Demings (D-FL), Mark DeSaulnier (D-CA), Ted Deutch (D-FL), Debbie Dingell (D-MI), Lloyd Doggett (D-TX), Mike Doyle (D-PA), Veronica Escobar (D-TX), Anna G. Eshoo (D-CA), Adriano Espaillat (D-NY), Dwight Evans (D-PA), Bill Foster (D-IL), Lois Frankel (D-FL), Marcia L. Fudge (D-OH), Ruben Gallego (D-AZ), John Garamendi (D-CA), Jesús “Chuy” García (D-IL), Sylvia R. García, (D-TX), Jimmy Gomez (D-CA), Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ), Al Green (D-TX), Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ), Deb Haaland (D-NM), Alcee L. Hastings (D-FL), Jahana Hayes (D-CT), Brian Higgins (D-NY), Steven Horsford (D-NV), Chrissy Houlahan (D-PA), Jared Huffman (D-CA), Sara Jacobs (D-CA), Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX), Henry C. “Hank” Johnson, Jr. (D-GA), Mondaire Jones (D-NY), Kaiali’I Kahele (D-HI), Marcy Kaptur (D-OH), Bill Keating (D-MA), Robin Kelly (D-IL), Ro Khanna (D-CA), Dan Kildee (D-MI), Derek Kilmer (D-WA), Andy Kim (D-NJ), Ann Kirkpatrick (D-AZ), Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL), Annie Kuster (D-NH), Jim Langevin (D-RI), Rick Larsen (D-WA), John B. Larson (D-CT), Brenda L. Lawrence (D-MI), Al Lawson (D-FL), Teresa Leger Fernández (D-NM), Andy Levin (D-MI), Mike Levin (D-CA), Ted Lieu (D-CA), Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Alan Lowenthal (D-CA), Elaine Luria (D-VA), Stephen F. Lynch (D-MA), Tom Malinowski (D-NJ), Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY), Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY), Kathy Manning (D-NC), Doris Matsui (D-CA), Lucy McBath (D-GA), Betty McCollum (D-MN), A. Donald McEachin (D-VA), James P. McGovern (D-MA), Jerry McNerney (D-CA), Gregory W. Meeks (D-NY), Grace Meng (D-NY), Kweisi Mfume (D-MD), Gwen Moore (D-WI), Joe Morelle (D-NY), Seth Moulton (D-MA), Frank Mrvan (D-IN), Grace F. Napolitano (D-CA), Richard E. Neal (D-MA), Joe Neguse (D-CO), Marie Newman (D-IL), Donald Norcross (D-NJ), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.), Tom O’Halleran (D-AZ), Ilhan Omar (D-MN), Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), Jimmy Panetta (D-CA), Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ), Donald M. Payne, Jr. (D-NJ), Ed Perlmutter (D-CO), Scott Peters (D-CA), Chellie Pingree (D-ME), Stacey E. Plaskett (D-V.I.), Mark Pocan (D-WI), Katie Porter (D-CA), David E. Price (D-NC), Jamie Raskin, (D-MD), Kathleen Rice (D-NY), Deborah Ross (D-NC), Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA), Raul Ruiz, M.D. (D-CA), C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-MD), Bobby L. Rush (D-IL), Tim Ryan (D-OH), Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan (MP-At Large), Linda Sánchez (D-CA), John Sarbanes (D-MD), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Adam Schiff (D-CA), Bradley Scott Schneider (D-IL), Bobby Scott (D-VA), David Scott (D-GA), Terri Sewell (D-AL), Brad Sherman (D-CA), Mikie Sherrill (D-NJ), Albio Sires (D-NJ), Adam Smith (D-WA), Darren Soto (D-FL), Jackie Speier (D-CA), Greg Stanton (D-AZ), Haley Stevens (D-MI), Marilyn Strickland (D-WA), Tom Suozzi (D-NY), Eric Swalwell (D-CA), Mark Takano (D-CA), Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS), Mike Thompson (D-CA), Dina Titus (D-NV), Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), Paul Tonko (D-NY), Norma Torres (D-CA), Ritchie Torres (D-NY), Lori Trahan (D-MA), David Trone (D-MD), Lauren Underwood (D-IL), Juan Vargas (D-CA), Marc Veasey (D-TX), Nydia Velázquez (D-NY), Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), Maxine Waters (D-CA), Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ), Peter Welch (D-VT), Jennifer Wexton (D-VA), Susan Wild (D-PA), Nikema Williams (D-GA), Frederica Wilson (D-FL) and John Yarmuth (D-KY).

The SPLC Action Fund release the following statement welcoming approval of George Floyd Justice in Policing Act

We at the SPLC Action Fund welcome House approval of the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act (JPA) as a good first step to address law enforcement accountability.  The JPA includes measures to prohibit racial profiling, ban the use of chokeholds and no-knock warrants, and provide funding to communities trying to re-envision public safety.  For officers that abuse their powers, the bill would limit the use of qualified immunity in court and create a national registry for reports of police misconduct.

However, while Georgia House approval of this bill is encouraging, we will continue pressing for stronger language in the Senate.  In order to foster systematic change, we support amendments that would:

  • Completely eliminate the use of qualified immunity.  The JPA only limits the use of qualified immunity for certain state law enforcement officials.  We advocate that no government actor should have this privilege.
  • Discontinue the U.S. Department of Defense 1033 program.  The JPA limits the transfer of military-grade equipment, but keeps the 1033 program alive.  We advocate ending the program entirely, making only non-military equipment available to community organizations.
  • Broaden the ban on no-knock warrants to include quick-knock warrants.  Law enforcement can foreseeably turn from no-knock raids to quick-knock raids, which have been shown to be just as dangerous.  We advocate a prohibition on both practices for all law enforcement.
  • Create a more robust and transparent police misconduct registry.  Data reporting is critical to ensure accountability.  However, the JPA contains a privacy provision that restricts public disclosure and restricts the definition of misconduct to use of force and racial profiling.  We advocate for strong and specific data collection mechanisms that include public accessibility.

The killing of George Floyd last May – and many other unarmed men and women of color by the police – has driven hundreds of thousands to sustained protests in the streets, energizing a decades-long movement calling not just for reform but for foundational changes and a deep reinvestment in community-based programs.  This cannot happen without true, systemic law enforcement accountability.  We encourage Congress to build on the progress made in the current version of the Justice in Policing Act and use this moment to enact legislation leading to a fundamental reimagining of policing and incarceration policies.

Rev. Al Sharpton & National Action Network (NAN) Statement on the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act 

“The passage of H.R. 1280, The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, is a monumental step towards reforming a broken system that allowed a law enforcement officer to conduct a modern-day lynching of Mr. Floyd with his knee. This legislation is as important as the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 was in the era of the civil rights movement of the ’50s and 60’s. We must face this moment and deal with police accountability instead of turning a blind eye. We must change the unjust criminal justice system, and patterns and practices of police abuse that we have endured for far too long, including the use of chokeholds, racial profiling of Black and Brown lives, and the wrongful conduct that permeated the system for generations. Until we get federal legislation, every state will continue to do what it wants to do, and we must remain vigilant about eradicating police abuse. As jury selection begins for Derek Chauvin, the officer that took George’s life, we will continue to galvanize fair-minded justice seekers and fight to turn demonstration into legislation,” said Rev. Al Sharpton, Founder and President of the National Action Network.




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