George Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2020 Passed by House

Published by Matt Fishman on

The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2020 has passed the House of Representatives.

The bill sets out to “hold law enforcement accountable for misconduct in court, improve transparency through data collection, and reform police training and policies”.

To achieve the first goal of holding law enforcement accountable, the bill proposes amending the “Deprivation of Rights Under Color of Law“. This law currently makes it a crime for police officers, prisons guards and other law enforcement officials “to willfully deprive a person of a right or privilege protected by the Constitution or laws of the United States”. The bill will change “willfully” to “knowingly or recklessly” in order to convict a law enforcement officer for misconduct in a federal prosecution. Also towards this first goal, the bill attempts to limit qualified immunity as a defense for law enforcement officers, authorizes the Department of Justice to issue subpoenas in investigations of police departments for discrimination, and establishes independent investigations into “a law enforcement officer’s use of deadly force”.

Towards the second goal of improving transparency in law enforcement, the bill establishes a “Task Force on Law Enforcement Oversight”. This task force will review and address “complaints regarding incidents of alleged law enforcement misconduct”. Additionally, the bill creates a national registry, the “National Police Misconduct Registry”, to compile data on complaints and records of police misconduct. States must report “any incident involving the use of deadly force against a civilian” by law enforcement officers. Among other items included in theses reports, the reports must detail “the national origin, sex, race, ethnicity, age, disability, English language proficiency, and housing status” of the civilian.

In regard to the third goal of reforming police training and policies, the bill prohibits racial profiling by law enforcement officers. As such, if an individual files a civil action accusing an officer of racial profiling, the evidence submitted by the individual will be considered prima facie, which means accepted as true until proven not. To prevent racial profiling incidents in general, law enforcement agencies must adopt “adequate policies and procedures designed to eliminate racial profiling”.

Furthermore, the bill enacts new requirements aiming to end no-knock warrants and chokeholds, and requires all law enforcement officers to wear a body camera.

The bill passed the House with a vote of 236-181.