Source: United States House of Representatives – Congressman Bill Pascrell (9th District of NEW JERSEY)
U.S. Reps. Bill Pascrell, Jr., Co-Chair of the House Law Enforcement Caucus, Val Demings (D-FL-10), former Chief of the Orlando Police Department, and Tom O’Halleran (D-AZ-01), a former Chicago Police Officer, today led a letter to their colleagues in the House of Representatives urging congressmembers to sign on as cosponsors of the watershed Justice in Policing Act of 2020 (H.R. 7102) and support passage of the critical bill.
“The growing divide between our men and women in blue and the public they are sworn to protect is unhealthy for democracy, and unhealthy for public safety,” Reps. Pascrell, Demings, and O’Halleran write. “Something is badly broken and urgent cultural and structural change in policing is needed. We must heed the call of the millions rallying, protesting, and crying out for justice and follow through on reforms that improve policing and make our country safer.”
The Justice in Policing Act is the most comprehensive package of police reforms considered by the Congress in generations. Sponsored by Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA-37) in the House and by U.S. Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) in the Senate, this legislation is a critical component of the House’s urgent drive to institute changes in policing in the aftermath of the murder of George Floyd and other Black Americans. Reps. Pascrell, Demings, and O’Halleran write today to push their colleagues to act on that urgency.
The full text of the members’ letter to colleagues is available here, the text of which is provided below.
June 16, 2020
We write in strong support of the Justice in Policing Act of 2020 (H.R. 7120) and urge you to cosponsor and vote in favor of the bill when it comes to the floor.
The murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and countless other Black Americans make clear that policing in the United States must change. These traumatic experiences are the latest public illustration of the violence inflicted on Black communities each day by the very people and institutions that should be there to protect them. It is due time that Congress provide real, equitable reforms that ensure officers empathize with and understand the communities they serve.
The growing divide between our men and women in blue and the public they are sworn to protect is unhealthy for democracy, and unhealthy for public safety. While not universal, many law enforcement leaders and rank and file officers recognize the gravity of this moment. If trust between communities of color and those sworn to protect them is not achieved now, it may be irreparably broken.
The Justice in Policing Act provides several necessary reforms that aim to rebuild trust between law enforcement officers and the communities they serve and prevent needless and tragic deaths from occurring in the future. If enacted, this legislation would achieve transformative, structural change to combat the pattern of police brutality and racial injustice by outlawing racial profiling, mandating de-escalation training, banning chokeholds and other excessively violent techniques, stanching the flow of military equipment onto our street corners, and bringing transparency and accountability to policing.
The brutal deaths of Mr. Floyd, Ms. Taylor, and of Tamir Rice, Eric Garner, and Philando Castile, among many other Black Americans shows something is badly broken and urgent cultural and structural change in policing is needed. We must heed the call of the millions rallying, protesting, and crying out for justice and follow through on reforms that improve policing and make our country safer.
We thank the sponsors of the Justice in Policing Act for their leadership on this critical legislation. We urge you all to cosponsor and vote in favor of this bill to bring real, structural reform to policing in our country and make unmistakably clear that Black Lives Matter.