Bill Would Reform Law Enforcement Agencies, Give State Attorneys General Statutory Authority to Investigate Unconstitutional Policing
New York – New York Attorney General Letitia James and Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul on Wednesday April 7th led a coalition of 10 attorneys general in urging the U.S. Senate to pass H.R. 1280, the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2021. The bill would reform law enforcement agencies nationwide, give state attorneys general clear statutory authority to investigate patterns or practices of unconstitutional policing, and the ability to acquire data regarding use of excessive force by officers.
“Communities all across this country are demanding that their government provide full justice under the law, and they deserve a legal system that holds those who abuse power accountable for their actions,” said Attorney General James. “The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act is a critical step toward providing equal protection and public safety to all Americans. Today, I join my fellow attorneys general in strongly urging the Senate to pass this commonsense measure without delay.”
The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2021 is aimed at improving accountability and transparency in policing practices and training. The measure was amended to give state attorneys general authority to conduct pattern-or-practice investigations, particularly in the event that the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) fails to use its authority to act. The legislation gives state attorneys general authority to issue subpoenas as part of pattern-or-practice investigations and, when necessary, take action in federal district court. The legislation also authorizes appropriations of up to $100 million for a federal grant program to help state attorneys general fund pattern-or-practice investigations during fiscal years 2021 to 2023.
In addition to enabling attorneys general to conduct pattern-or-practice investigations, H.R. 1280 would allow them to acquire data about the use of excessive force by law enforcement officers. Such data would be especially important when identifying law enforcement agencies that have above-average rates of excessive force complaints, which can help identify at-risk law enforcement agencies before a devastating incident occurs
Joining Attorneys General James and Raoul in calling on the Senate to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2021 are the attorneys general of Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, Oregon, Virginia, and the District of Columbia.