June 18, 2015

Cardin, Mikulski Introduce Legislative Package to Restore Community Trust in Baltimore and Nationwide

The “BALTIMORE Act” reinforces civil liberties, promotes best practices in policing, encourages training and provides a second chance to those re-entering society

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Ben Cardin and Barbara A. Mikulski (Both D-Md.) have announced the introduction of legislation designed to address many of the core issues that have led to an erosion of trust among communities and law enforcement. S. 1610, officially named the “BALTIMORE Act,” would help communities nationwide by “Building And Lifting Trust In order to Multiply Opportunities and Racial Equality” (BALTIMORE).

“It’s finally time that we took comprehensive steps to restore hope and trust in our neighborhoods. We need to ensure that all our citizens’ rights are preserved while giving police the tools they need to re-engage with the families and individuals they are there to protect,” said Senator Cardin. “I thank my colleagues who have contacted Senator Mikulski and me offering their help and willingness to work together to deal with the issues that have been raised in Baltimore and other cities around the country. The components of the BALTIMORE Act are powerful antidotes to many of the long-term ills facing our city and others. We must simultaneously promote more economic development and opportunities for our cities, but this bill gives individuals and law enforcement a second chance to do the right thing and contribute in a positive way for their families, their neighborhoods and the larger community.”

“Though the recent riots in Baltimore happened in my hometown, it easily could have happened in any of America’s hometowns,” Senator Mikulski said. “We must fix the frayed trust between our police and the communities they’re sworn to protect with more than a band-aid. That’s what this legislation does. Ending racial profiling, increasing accountability, collecting critical crime data like officer related shootings, and providing real strategies and resources to strengthen police-community relations will help protect the rights of every American, on every side of our justice system.”

THE “BALTIMORE ACT”

“Building And Lifting Trust In order to Multiply Opportunities and Racial Equality” 

S. 1610, Introduced by Senators Cardin and Mikulski on June 18, 2015 

Title I: Law Enforcement Reform

  • End Racial Profiling Act (ERPA): Ban on racial profiling by state and local law enforcement, mandatory data collection and reporting, available grants [S. 1056/Cardin].
  • State & Local Accountability: Require local law enforcement officials receiving Byrne-JAG and COPS Hiring program funds to submit officer training information to DOJ, including how their officers are trained in the use of force, racial and ethnic bias, de-escalating conflicts, and constructive engagement with the public.  Urges state and local police departments to promptly submit NIBRS data to the FBI [C-J-S Appropriations/Mikulski].
  • Justice Department Assistance: Require DOJ report on a plan to assist State and local law enforcement agencies to improve training in use of force, identifying racial and ethnic bias, and conflict resolution through the course of officers’ careers.  DOJ shall develop Field Training Program policies and examine ways to partner with national law enforcement organizations to promote consistent standards for high quality training and assessment.  DOJ report shall contain best practices, model policies, and a training toolkit.  DOJ will derive action plan for helping law enforcement agencies upgrade their IT systems to submit arrest & officer-involved shootings data [C-J-S Appropriations/Mikulski].
  • Police Camera Act: Establish a pilot program to assist local law enforcement in purchasing or leasing body-worn cameras, requires privacy study [S. 877/Schatz].

Title II: Voting Rights Reform and Civil Rights Restoration

  • Democracy Restoration Act (DRA): Restore right to vote for all citizens after prison sentence is served [S. 772/Cardin].
  • Federal jury service: Restore eligibility after prison sentence served.

Title III: Sentencing Law Reform

  • RESET Act: Reclassify specific low-level, non-violent drug possession felonies as misdemeanors, eliminate the distinction between crack and powder cocaine for sentencing, and require fair weight for food products [S. 1138/Paul].

Title IV: Re-Entry and Employment Law Reform

  • Second Chance Expansion: Allow non-profits to apply for grants.
  • Re-entry funding: Authorize $200 million annually for the Labor Department’s Re-entry Employment Opportunities program (Workforce Investment Opportunity Act).
  • “Ban the Box”: Sense of Congress that Administration should “ban the box” for hiring of federal contractors.