President Biden just urged Congress to act on police reform, referencing the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, which already passed the US House of Representatives. It now needs a debate and a vote in the US Senate.
"My fellow Americans, we have to come together to rebuild trust between law enforcement and the people they serve, to root out systemic racism in our criminal justice system and to enact police reform in George Floyd's name that passed the House already," Biden said.
"I know Republicans have their own ideas and are engaged in a very productive discussion with Democrats in the Senate. We need to work together to find a consensus, but let's get it done next month by the first anniversary of George Floyd's death," he added.
According to the legislation's fact sheet, the bill would "save lives by banning chokeholds and no-knock warrants" and would mandate "deadly force be used only as a last resort."
In the wake of the Derek Chauvin verdict, many of Floyd's family members, leaders and activists and Biden said that now is the time to continue to push that legislation forward. Supporters of the bill say it would improve law enforcement accountability and work to root out racial bias in policing.
Here's what the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act would do:
- Ban chokeholds. While many police agencies say they don't train their officers to use chokeholds, they are still used. The legal standard for the use of chokeholds is vague, making it difficult to prosecute officers who abuse this use of force
- Ban no-knock warrants. The no-knock warrant allows officers to break into homes without warning.
- Create a duty to intervene. When police officers see another officer using excessive force, the witnessing officers would be required to intervene.
- Create a public registry. The law establishes a national police misconduct registry available to the public. This would stop officers from evading consequences for their actions by moving to another jurisdiction.
- End qualified immunity: Qualified immunity is a legal doctrine that protects government officials from being held personally liable for violations – for example, when police use excessive force. Ending qualified immunity would mean that, if a police officer breaks the law, that officer would be held accountable
Democrats now control the Senate, which has a 50-50 partisan split with Vice President Kamala Harris acting as the tie breaker. But most legislation in that chamber still requires 60 votes to overcome a filibuster, and it's not clear there would be enough Republican support to get the legislation across the finish line in the Senate.