Democrats proposed a sweeping overhaul of police oversight and procedures Monday, the most ambitious change to law enforcement sought by Congress in years, per the AP. Before unveiling the package, House and Senate Democrats held a moment of silence at the Capitol's Emancipation Hall, reading the names of George Floyd and others killed during police interactions. They knelt for 8 minutes and 46 seconds—now a symbol of police brutality and violence—the length of time prosecutors say Floyd was pinned under a white police officer’s knee before he died. The Justice in Policing Act would:
- Limit legal protections for police. For example, it would revise the federal criminal police misconduct statute to make it easier to prosecute officers who are involved in misconduct “knowingly or with reckless disregard."
- The package would also change “qualified immunity” protections for police “to enable individuals to recover damages when law enforcement officers violate their constitutional rights."
- Create a national database of excessive-force incidents.
- Ban police chokeholds.
- Ban racial profiling and boost requirements for police body cameras.
- Grant subpoena power to the Justice Department to conduct “pattern and practice” investigations of potential misconduct and help states conduct independent investigations.
- The measure stops short of calls by activists to “defund the police,” a push to dismantle or reduce financial resources to police departments that has struck new intensity in the weeks of protests since Floyd's death.
- It is unclear if law enforcement and the powerful police unions will back any of the proposed changes or if congressional Republicans will join the effort.
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