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Democrats Promise New Police Reform Bill Will Bring ‘Transformative Structural Change’

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi speaks about the coronavirus relief legislation, on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., May 12, 2020. (Graeme Jennings/Reuters)

House Democrats announced a sweeping police reform bill on Capitol Hill Monday that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) claims will provide the “transformative structural change” the nation requires after weeks of unrest in the wake of the death of George Floyd.

The “Justice in Policing Act 2020”, orchestrated by the Congressional Black Caucus, was unveiled at a press conference Monday. “The world is witnessing the birth of a new movement in our country,” Congressional Black Caucus Chair Karen Bass (D., Calif.) announced. “A profession where you have the power to kill should be a profession where you have highly trained officers accountable to the public.”

Though not yet formally unveiled, multiple reports say the bill targets police misconduct by: eliminating qualified immunity, which shields cops from civil liability; creating a National Police Misconduct Registry “to prevent problem officers from changing jurisdictions to avoid accountability”; and amending the standard of prosecution for police misconduct from “willfulness” to “recklessness.”

While it does not call for “defunding the police,” the legislation aims to restrict the transfer of military-grade equipment to municipal law enforcement and requires federal uniformed police offers to wear body cameras. It also offers incentives for localities to mandate racial training for departments.

The bill also includes a section that makes lynching a hate crime, after the Senate failed to pass an anti-lynching bill by unanimous consent last week when Rand Paul (R., Ky.) said the text was overly broad. Democrats have yet to add any bipartisan signatures to their proposal, and House Republicans are planning to release their own proposal by the end of the week.

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