WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.) has re-introduced the Law Enforcement Trust and Integrity Act (LETIA), S.3063, which aims to address the issue of police accountability and build trust between police departments and the communities they serve. This legislation provides incentives for local police organizations to voluntarily adopt performance-based standards to ensure that incidents of misconduct will be reduced through appropriate management, training and oversight protocols. It also authorizes funds for the implementation of consent decrees and judgments entered into between the Department of Justice and local police departments, such as the Baltimore Police Department.
“We are all safer when law enforcement and the people they protect can work together,” said Senator Cardin. “While the vast majority of police officers perform their duties bravely and professionally, a pattern of 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, 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 protect.”
- Ensure that if incidents of misconduct do occur, they will be properly investigated.
- Provide police officers with resources to improve community relations and enhance their professional growth and education.
- Require the Attorney General to study and report on administrative due-process procedures for police officers, and to create a national task force on law enforcement oversight.
- Improve federal data collection on police practices, including the use of deadly force by and against police.
- Provide enhanced funding for efforts to combat police misconduct, such as consent decrees like the one entered into by the City of Baltimore after the 2015 death of Freddie Gray.
LETIA is consistent with the recommendations of the Final Report of the President’s Taskforce on 21st Century Policing, issued in May 2015. The report 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.”
Said Senator Cardin: “I agree fully with former President Obama, who said: ‘There is no contradiction between us caring about our law enforcement officers and also making sure that our laws are applied fairly. Our police officers will do a better job doing it if our communities can feel confident that they are being treated fairly.’”
SUMMARY: LAW ENFORCEMENT TRUST AND INTEGRITY ACT (LETIA) OF 2019
The Law Enforcement Trust and Integrity Act (LETIA) 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 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 will 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 multijurisdictional 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.