Congressman Panetta is an Original Cosponsor of the Justice in Policing Act of 2020

June 8, 2020
Press Release

SALINAS, CA – Today, Congressman Jimmy Panetta (D-Carmel Valley) announced that he is an original cosponsor of the Justice in Policing Act of 2020.  The bicameral legislation was introduced today in the House by Congressional Black Caucus Chair Congresswoman Karen Bass (CA-37) and Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (NY-10), and in the Senate by Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA).

The comprehensive package will help hold police misconduct accountable, improve transparency of policing by collecting better and more accurate data of any wrongdoings and negligent use-of-force, improve police training and policies, and make lynching a federal crime.

“Although no single bill will erase systemic racism, it is past time for Congress to create structural changes within our law enforcement system with meaningful legislation.  The Justice in Policing Act is a way to modify law enforcement so that it is supportive and suitable for all communities,” said Congressman Panetta.  “I am proud to continue to work on this bill, crafted with the help of members of the Congressional Black Caucus and soon to be considered in the House Judiciary Committee, as a significant way to acknowledge past wrongs, account for present issues, and act on real reform for the future of our legal system.”

The Justice in Policing Act of 2020 will:

  • Hold police accountable by:
    • Reforming qualified immunity so that individuals are not entirely barred from recovering damages when police violate their constitutional rights;
    • Improving the use of pattern and practice investigations at the federal level by granting the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division subpoena power and incentivizing state attorneys general to conduct pattern and practice investigations;
    • Amending the mens rea requirement in 18 U.S.C. Section 242, the federal criminal statute to prosecute police misconduct, from “willfulness” to a “recklessness” standard;
    • Incentivizing states to create independent investigative structures for police involved deaths through grants; and
    • Creating best practices recommendations based on President Barack Obama’s 21st Century Policing Task Force.
  • Improve transparency into policing by collecting better and more accurate data of police misconduct and negligent use-of-force by:  
    • Creating a National Police Misconduct Registry to prevent problem-officers from changing jurisdictions to avoid accountability; and
    • Mandating state and local law enforcement agencies report use of force data, disaggregated by race, sex, disability, religion, age.
  • Improve police training and practices by:  
    • Ending racial and religious profiling;
    • Mandating training on racial bias and the duty to intervene;
    • Banning no-knock warrants in drug cases;
    • Banning chokeholds and carotid holds;
    • Changing the standard to evaluate whether law enforcement use of force was justified from whether the force was reasonable to whether the force was necessary;
    • Limiting the transfer of military-grade equipment to state and local law enforcement;
    • Requiring federal uniformed police officers to wear body cameras; and 
    • Requiring state and local law enforcement to use existing federal funds to ensure the use of police body cameras.
  • Make lynching a federal crime by:
    • Making it a federal crime to conspire to violate existing federal hate crimes laws.

For full legislative text, please click here