WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.) today introduced the Law Enforcement Trust and Integrity Act (LETIA), S. 2168. The legislation takes a comprehensive approach to addressing the issue of police accountability and building trust between police departments and their communities. This legislation also 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.
“Our communities are safer when law enforcement and the people they protect can work together. Officer-involved shootings or the use of deadly force have led to numerous criminal investigations and trials, including those in Charleston, Cleveland and now Baltimore, with the upcoming trials for the Freddie Gray case,” said Senator Cardin. “These events have galvanized the nation’s attention and demand a response. President Obama put it correctly when he said, ‘There is no contradiction between us caring about our law enforcement officers and also making sure that our laws are applied fairly. We want to protect our police officers. We’ll do a better job doing it if our communities can feel confident that they are being treated fairly.’”
“Congress can help immediately by passing LETIA,” added Senator Cardin.
LETIA would ensure that if such incidents do occur, they will be properly investigated. The bill also provides police officers – the vast majority of whom perform their jobs professionally and put their lives on the line daily – with the tools necessary to improve community relations and enhance their professional growth and education. The legislation requires 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. The bill provides enhanced funding to combat police misconduct and improves federal data collection on police practices, including the use of deadly force by and against police.
“As the Senate moves to consider criminal justice reform, Congress should take this opportunity to address the urgent issue of reforming our police agencies,” concluded Sen. Cardin. “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.”
The NAACP, Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, ACLU, National Urban League, and National Organization of Black Law Executives (NOBLE) have endorsed this legislation. Congressman John Conyers introduced the House companion version of LETIA as H.R. 2875.
Sen. Cardin also is the author of the BALTIMORE Act (S. 1610), which is designed to address many of the core issues that have led to an erosion of trust among communities and law enforcement.