WASHINGTON, D.C. – Representative Adam Smith (D-Wash.) released the following statement after voting to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, legislation which will address the crisis of systemic racism and police brutality.
“Almost one year ago, George Floyd was murdered by a police officer who knelt on his neck, suffocating him for over eight and a half minutes. For far too long, America has grieved George Floyd and countless others killed by police brutality, enduring profound pain and sadness without any accountability for the perpetrators of senseless, racist acts of violence. Systemic racism continues to permeate the fabric of our country’s institutions putting Black Americans and other communities of color at risk, but Americans from every walk of life across the country have been demanding action and change. Today, we honor the lives of all those killed by police brutality and systemic racism by passing the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act.
“The Justice in Policing Act takes a comprehensive approach to curb police brutality and end racial profiling. To raise the standard of conduct across the country, the bill implements a set of recommendations and best practices formulated by President Obama’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing drafted by over 150 police chiefs, sheriffs, mayors, community leaders, and other law enforcement professionals. The bill bans chokeholds and no-knock warrants, mandates racial bias training, and institutes a duty to intervene for officers observing police misconduct. It also mandates the use of body cameras on every uniformed police officer. The bill invests in transformative community-based policing programs and mandates rigorous data collection on police encounters to ensure law enforcement remains accountable and responsive to community needs.
“Departmental reforms are an essential step but there can be no justice without accountability. The bill reforms the doctrine of qualified immunity so that individuals and families who have been harmed or experienced police brutality can have their day in court without sacrificing due process. The bill also increases funding for investigations into departments that demonstrate a pattern and practice of discrimination and racial bias, establishes a task force to coordinate investigations related to law enforcement misconduct, and creates a National Police Misconduct Registry.
“It is vital to recognize that safeguarding public safety means investing directly in communities in ways that relieve the strain on police departments as the sole source of emergency assistance. This bill supports critical programs that reinvest in our communities by establishing public safety innovation grants for community-based organizations to create local commissions and task forces to help communities develop concrete alternative policing practices that create accountability.
“I stand in strong support of my colleagues on the Congressional Black Caucus who introduced the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, and I will continue to work with them to implement the dramatic changes required in all aspects of our society to end systemic racism. This bill is a great first step, but there is still much more work to be done to combat racial injustice and end police brutality. I will work with my colleagues and the Biden-Harris Administration to ensure this crucial legislation becomes law and build on this bill to address systemic racism, end police brutality, and saves lives.