The Democratic legislation would make sweeping changes designed both to deter police use of force and hold officers more accountable for abuses. The federal bill comes as changes start at the local level: most of the Minneapolis city council committed to disbanding and replacing the city’s police force Sunday, while New York City will consider a range of law enforcement reforms.
The bill “establishes a bold, transformative vision of policing in America,” said Congressional Black Caucus Chair Rep. Karen Bass, D-Calif., at a news conference where Democrats introduced the measure. She said Americans should not have to witness “the slow murder of an individual by a uniformed police officer.” Bass added that the bill has more than 200 co-sponsors in both chambers of Congress.
The 134-page bill would take numerous steps including allowing victims of misconduct to sue for police damages, ban chokeholds and require the use of body cameras by federal law enforcement officers, restrict the use of lethal force, and facilitate independent investigations of police departments with patterns of misconduct.
Democrats hope to bring the legislation to the floor of the House of Representatives before the end of June. But its reception in the Republican-controlled Senate is unclear, with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell noncommittal on the need for legislation.