Kelly Co-Sponsors JUSTICE Act, Calls for Law Enforcement Accountability

Jun 17, 2020

Washington, D.C. - U.S. Senator Tim Scott (R-S.C.) today unveiled the JUSTICE Act, landmark legislation to ensure transparency and accountability in American law enforcement. Representative Mike Kelly (R-Pa.) co-sponsored the House companion bill introduced by Representative Pete Stauber (R-Minn.) and released this statement:

"The past few weeks have been a traumatic and eye-opening experience for our nation. The death of George Floyd and others has spurred a necessary conversation about transparency, accountability and race relations within our nation. In my conversations with community leaders and western Pennsylvania police chiefs, it is clear that we all agree on the need for improvement.  Among other things, the JUSTICE Act will increase training for law enforcement officers, expand the use of body cameras, and ensure that cops who violate the law are held accountable."

Background

The JUSTICE Act will improve policing in a variety of ways while still supporting law enforcement. A summary of the bill's provisions is below.

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.
  • Increasing the number of body cameras.
  • Improving access to prior disciplinary records, ensuring officers who consistently act outside of their policies, procedures, and training, cannot move from department to department.
  • Emphasizing community reflective recruitment, ensuring the makeup of police departments more closely resemble the communities they serve.
  • Restoring investment in community policing, helping to build trust between officers and the communities they serve.
  • Investing in improved police training, with an emphasis on de-escalation and duty to intervene.

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