House Democrats to Unveil Police Reform Bill Amid National Protests

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Democrats in the House will unveil legislation Monday morning to propose a plan to reform police policies in what should be a massive bill to hold law enforcement officials accountable and to increase transparency . The bill comes amid protests nationwide in response to the death of George Floyd.The bill, led by the Congressional Black Caucus, will be announced at a press conference with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senators Cory Booker and Kamala Harris, and other Democrats in Congress on Monday morning. The bill is 136 pages long and includes reforms to facilitate the prosecution of police officers for professional misconduct in a civil court. The text of the bill, titled Justice in Policing Act 2020, was provided to CBS News by a Democratic staff member of the House.

The bill would change the intent of the federal criminal law’s intent to prosecute police for misconduct by changing the standard from “voluntary will” to “recklessness”. It would also reform qualified immunity, which would mean that individuals could recover damages when their constitutional rights are violated by law enforcement officials.

The bill aims to implement structural reforms at the Ministry of Justice by granting the civil rights division of the ministry subpoena power. The bill would also encourage state attorneys general to investigate the patterns and practices of local police services and provide grants to states to establish investigative structures for police-related deaths.

The legislation attempts to improve transparency by creating a national register of police misconduct, and requires national and local authorities to provide data on the use of force broken down by race, sex, disability, religion and age.

The bill also aims to combat cultural prejudice in police stations by making racial training compulsory. It would also change the standard to assess whether the use of force was justified. Currently, officers only have to prove that the use of force was reasonable. The bill would change the standard so that officers must demonstrate that the use of force is necessary. The bill would also require federal law enforcement officials to carry body cameras and limit the transfer of military grade equipment to national and local law enforcement authorities.

It is said to prohibit strike orders in drug cases, which means that police cannot break into homes without hitting them first. Protesters called to end the practice after police in Louisville, Kentucky shot dead Breonna taylor in bed after entering her home on the basis of a warrant to strike. The bill would also prohibit strangling of the police. Floyd died after being trapped by a police officer with a knee around his neck for almost nine minutes.

Bill includes section that makes lynching a hate crime after Senate failed an anti-lynching bill last week. It is unclear whether this package would receive support in the Republican-controlled Senate.

Some protesters have called for funding for police services, but the House bill does not include funding specifically for police services and would instead put in place grants to community organizations to create partnerships that allow greater responsibility.

President Trump has accused former vice president Joe Biden, the Democratic candidate, to support this policy, although Biden remained largely silent on this specific issue. In one speech last week, Biden called for eliminating bottlenecks and improving police training.

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