Rep. Lucas, Colleagues Introduce JUSTICE Act in House
Mike Seals - June 18, 2020 10:27 pm
Washington, D.C. – On Thursday, Congressman Frank Lucas (OK-03) joined Congressman Pete Stauber (MN-08), Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy (CA-23), and 119 of his House Republican colleagues in introducing the Just and Unifying Solutions to Invigorate Communities Everywhere (JUSTICE) Act. The legislation provides long-term solutions focused on police reform, accountability, and transparency. The bill also promotes efforts to find solutions to systemic issues that affect people of color, such as education and health disparities.
“I, like many Americans, was deeply disturbed by the video of George Floyd’s death. Hundreds of thousands of local, state, and federal law enforcement officials in Oklahoma and around our great nation wake up every day to answer the call of service and protect their fellow neighbor, yet, unfortunately it is the disturbing and cruel actions like those of the Minneapolis police officers that overshadow the actions of the good,” said Congressman Lucas.
“I am honored to join my colleagues today in introducing the JUSTICE Act, which works to reinforce the need for better policing, emphasizes and streamlines data collection across law enforcement agencies, provides more resources for police departments to better train officers, increases the use of body cameras, and holds officers accountable who fail to uphold their oath. Justice is not a partisan issue and shouldn’t come at the expense of defunding our communities police departments. I’m thankful for the leadership shown by my colleague Congressman Pete Stauber who has worked to bring about positive and real solutions, and I hope our Democratic colleagues will work with us to find common ground and rebuild the trust between law enforcement officials and the communities they serve.”
Of the JUSTICE Act, Congressman Stauber said, “As a former law enforcement officer, I was devastated watching the video of George Floyd dying at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer. The cruel and inhumane actions perpetrated by those officers go against everything I stood for during my time in law enforcement. George Floyd’s life mattered, and the best way to honor his memory is by enacting change within police departments nationwide. That’s why I am proud to introduce the JUSTICE Act, which offers pragmatic solutions to improve policing.”
Stauber continued, stating, “In order to truly make progress on public safety, and unite this nation, it is imperative to rebuild trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve. The JUSTICE Act will do just that by implementing community policing best practices, creating transparency when it comes to reporting incidents with law enforcement, and holding officers and departments alike accountable for their actions. Delivering lasting reform should not be a partisan issue, and I am looking forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle on this important issue. Our nation is calling for change, and I am confident that we will rise to the occasion.”
The full text of the JUSTICE Act can be found here, and a summary can be found below.
The Senate companion of the JUSTICE Act was introduced yesterday by Senator Tim Scott (R-SC).
Improving Law Enforcement Transparency:
- Require annual reports on the use of force that involves death, serious bodily injury, or the discharge of a firearm, by law enforcement and against law enforcement.
- Mandate reports on the use of “no-knock” warrants, and whether the warrant application was accurate, if force was used, or if a death or injury occurs.
Ensuring Law Enforcement Accountability:
- Require law enforcement agencies to maintain and share disciplinary records for officer hiring considerations.
- Provide $500 million for state and local law enforcement agencies to equip all officers with body cameras, improve use of body cameras, and store and retain footage.
- Increase criminal penalties for any individual who knowingly and willfully falsifies a police report.
Improving Officer Performance:
- Incentivize chokehold bans by withholding federal dollars to any law enforcement agency that has not implemented a chokehold ban, in conformance with the 2017 Law Enforcement Consensus Policy.
- Direct the Attorney General to develop training curricula, and certify public and private entities to offer training, regarding the duty of a law enforcement officer to intervene when another law enforcement officer is engaged in excessive force.
- Require the Department of Justice to develop and provide training that will enable law enforcement officers to better serve their communities with a focus on de-escalation techniques and law enforcement interaction with mentally ill individuals.
- Help implement community policing by reauthorizing the Department of Justice’s COPS on the Beat and Byrne JAG grant programs, whose authorization of appropriations lapsed in 2009 and 2012, respectively.
- Make lynching a federal crime.
- Create a bipartisan Commission to report on conditions affecting black men and boys, including education, health care, financial status, and the criminal justice system.