Democrats in the US Congress announced a proposal on Monday for the most ambitious changes to law enforcement in years.
Following two weeks of protests over the death of George Floyd, the Democrat-controlled house has come forward with a proposal that would limit protections for police, create a national database for incidents of excessive force and ban chokeholds, among other changes.
House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi said that the proposed changes are an answer to the outrage over Floyd’s death and a plan of action to combat racial injustice in the United States.
“This moment of national anguish is being transformed into a movement of national action as Americans from across the country peacefully protest to demand an end to injustice,” she said, according to Al Jazeera.
“Police brutality is [a] heartbreaking reflection of an entrenched system of racial injustice in America,” she added. “True justice can only be achieved with full comprehensive action.”
The most important proposed change in the legislation is to revise the federal criminal police misconduct statute which would make it easier to prosecute police officers in such instances. Another change will help create better oversight by creating a national database for incidents of misconduct, so that officers transferring from one department to another will not be able to enter new departments with their records going undetected.
Furthermore, it would grant subpoena power to the US Department of Justice so that they can conduct investigations into cases of misconduct and allow the states themselves to conduct independent investigations. Another proposed change is for a ban on chokeholds and similar dangerous practices that are used to detain suspects.
Although, should the chokehold ban not make it through the federal legislative process, it appears that the bans may rather be carried out within the departments themselves, after the Denver police department announced yesterday that it has banned the practice, with no exceptions, effective immediately.
The one drawback on this new legislation, co-authored by House Judiciary Committee Chairman, Jerrold Nadler, Representative Karen Bass, Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus and Democratic senators comes down to whether it will be approved by the Republican controlled Senate or signed into law by President Donald Trump.
Nadler, Bass and the Democratic senators will call for a hearing on the legislation this week, while Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, says his panel intends to hold a hearing to review use of force issues and police practices.