June 05, 2020

Cardin Praises the House Introduction of Legislation Providing Incentives to Minimize Incidents of Misconduct, and Enhance Accountability for Police Departments

WASHINGTON U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.) praised the introduction of the George Floyd Law Enforcement Trust and Integrity Act (LETIA), in the House today. Senator Cardin is the lead Senate sponsor. The bill is designed to address the issue of police accountability and build trust between police departments and the communities they serve. The House bill was introduced by Representatives Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas-18), House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.-10), Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.-5), Congressional Black Caucus Chairwoman Karen Bass (D-Calif.-37) and Jason Crow (D-Colo.-6) responding to decades fraught with tensions between police and communities of color highlighted by an increase in the number and frequency of allegations of bias-based policing by law enforcement agents, sometimes supported by data collection efforts and video evidence.

“We are all safer when law enforcement and the people they protect can work together. The death of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and too many other victims has reinforced fears and shattered many of those relationships at a time they are needed most,” said Senator Cardin. “A pattern of deadly police misconduct that disproportionately affects minority individuals has undermined the relationship between law enforcement and our communities. In order to restore hope and trust in our neighborhoods in Baltimore and nationwide, Congress must address the urgent issue of reforming our police agencies. We need to ensure that every citizen’s rights are preserved while giving police the tools to re-engage with the people they are sworn to serve and protect.”

“Transparency and integrity from police departments across the nation is not too much to ask. The American public watched in horror as an officer kneeled on George Floyd’s neck, pinning him to the ground while he repeatedly pleaded for his life. This egregious behavior can no longer be tolerated. We demand accountability and transparency from all U.S. police departments. We must remain vigilant during this tumultuous time. To the family of #GeorgeFloyd we are mourning with you. It is well beyond time to end the practices that cause Americans to live in fear — simply because of the color of their skin. The time for change is now,” said Rep. Jackson Lee.

“Law enforcement officers take an oath to protect and serve. Far too many departments perpetuate profiling and excessive force. It is past time to disrupt this system and work to ensure every American is treated fairly. The Law Enforcement Trust and Integrity Act is a bill to incentivize states and police departments to do just that. I am proud to cosponsor this legislation and applaud Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee for her steadfast leadership on this issue,” said Rep. Nadler.  

“The federal government has a critical role to play in promoting a culture of accountability for all law enforcement organizations. As voices from coast to coast take to the streets to demand justice for George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and the many whose names we never knew, we cannot look at these as isolated incidents but instead the repercussions when justice is never served. When you have police officers who abuse citizens, you erode public confidence in law enforcement,” said Rep. Bass.

“The death of George Floyd in my Minneapolis district has gripped the attention of the nation. But the systemic targeting and use of deadly and brutal force by police long predates George Floyd. Systematic violence against Black people in this country stems from the long legacy of slavery, lynching, and Jim Crow laws in the U.S.,” said Rep. Omar. “If we are to change this pattern of violent racism, we need to fundamentally restructure our criminal justice system. It is critical that we increase police accountability and incentivize de-escalation to minimize the use of force. I am proud to join Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee in introducing this important legislation,” said Rep. Omar.

“We can’t bring George Floyd back, but we can honor his life by reforming our institutions that have created and perpetuated inequality. We must raise our voices with the Black Lives Matter movement, but that is not enough. It’s past time to take concrete steps to address these issues. We need to build trust between our police departments and the communities they serve, and increase accountability and transparency. It’s time for things to change,” said Rep. Crow.

The George Floyd Law Enforcement Trust and Integrity Act is designed to provide incentives for local police organizations to voluntarily adopt performance-based standards to ensure that incidents of deadly force or misconduct will be minimized through appropriate management and training protocols and properly investigated, should they occur.  The bill authorizes the Department of Justice to work cooperatively with independent accreditation, law enforcement and community-based organizations to further develop and refine the accreditation standards, and authorizes the Attorney General to make grants to law enforcement agencies for the purpose of obtaining accreditation from certified law enforcement accreditation organizations.

The Final Report of The Obama Administration Taskforce on 21st Century Policing, issued in May 2015 stated: “Decades of research and practice support the premise that people are more likely to obey the law when they believe that those who are enforcing it have authority that is perceived as legitimate by those subject to authority…Law enforcement culture should embrace a guardian – rather than a warrior – mindset to build trust and legitimacy both within agencies and with the republic.” The Law Enforcement Trust and Integrity Act is consistent with those recommendations aimed at improving policing in the 21st Century. The George Floyd Law Enforcement Trust and Integrity Act takes a comprehensive approach at addressing the issue of police accountability and building trust between police departments and their communities. The Act makes seven concrete steps toward improving law enforcement management and misconduct prosecution tools.

Title I: Law Enforcement Accreditation

This title requires the Attorney General to perform an initial analysis of existing law enforcement accreditation standards and to recommend areas for the development of additional national standards for accreditation of police agencies in conjunction with law enforcement accreditation groups, law enforcement associations, and labor and community-based groups. Such an analysis shall include a review of the recommendations of the Final Report of the President’s Taskforce on 21st Century Policing, issued in May 2015. Additionally, the Attorney General can recommend the adoption of uniform standards – including use of force procedures – for greater community law enforcement accountability.  Further, it authorizes the Attorney General to make grants to police agencies for the purpose of obtaining accreditation from certified professional law enforcement accreditation organizations.

Title II: Law Enforcement Development Programs

This Title authorizes the Attorney General to make grants to States, units of local government, Indian Tribal Governments, or other public and private entities, and multi-jurisdictional or regional consortia to study law enforcement agency management and operations.  Grants would also help develop pilot programs to implement best practices focused on effective training, recruitment, hiring, management and oversight of law enforcement officers, which would also provide focused data for the development of additional accreditation standards.

Title III: Administrative Due Process Procedures

This Title requires the Attorney General to study the prevalence and impact of any law, rule or procedure that allows a law enforcement officer to delay for an unreasonable or arbitrary period of time the answer to questions posed by a local internal affairs officer, prosecutor, or review board on the investigative integrity and prosecution of law enforcement misconduct.

Title IV: Enhanced Funding To Combat Police Misconduct & Reform Police Departments

This Title authorizes $25 million for additional expenses relating to the enforcement of civil rights statues – including compliance with consent decree or judgments – regarding police misconduct brought by the Department of Justice, pursuant to Section 210401 of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 (now 34 U.S.C. 12601). This Title also authorizes appropriations for additional expenses relating to conflict resolution, including programs managed by the Department of Justice’s Community Relations Services, within the Civil Rights Division.

Title V: National Task Force on Law Enforcement Oversight

This provision requires the Department of Justice to establish a task force to coordinate the investigation, prosecution and enforcement efforts of federal, state and local governments in cases related to law enforcement misconduct. It also authorizes appropriations to support task force efforts.

Title VI: Federal Data Collection on Police Practices

This provision requires each Federal, State, and local law enforcement agency to report to the Attorney General data on the following: 1) traffic violation stops; 2) pedestrian stops and detentions; and 3) the use of deadly force by and against law enforcement officers, including the outcome (injury or death) and the law enforcement agency’s justification, if applicable.

Title VII: Medallions for Fallen Law Enforcement Officers

This provision requires the Department of Justice, in cooperation with the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, to create and provide a distinctive medallion to be issued to the survivors of law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty or memorialized on the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial.

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