Suburban Democrats endorse police reform measure aimed at protecting minorities
Sweeping police reform legislation that bans chokeholds and racial profiling introduced Monday in the U.S. House has broad backing from the suburbs' congressional delegation.
The proposed Justice in Policing Act 2020 aims to protect blacks and other minorities in the wake of outrage over the fate of George Floyd, whose death as a Minneapolis police officer put a knee on his neck May 25 caused protests nationwide.
"For centuries, Black Americans have experienced racial injustice in so many aspects of life, including treatment by law enforcement," said U.S. Rep. Lauren Underwood, a Naperville Democrat who is African American.
"In the last few weeks, I have been in awe of protests and calls to action from community members in northern Illinois, and I agree with them: enough is enough," she added in a statement.
Other Democrats supporting the policy include Illinois Sens. Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth, and Reps. Sean Casten of Downers Grove, Bill Foster of Naperville, Raja Krishnamoorthi of Schaumburg, Mike Quigley of Chicago, Jan Schakowsky of Evanston and Brad Schneider of Deerfield.
Among the proposed reforms are the following:
• Prohibiting chokeholds and executing "no-knock" search warrants in drug cases -- and conditioning certain funding for state and local police on banning those two actions.
• Requiring officers to de-escalate situations and use deadly force only as a last resort.
• Altering the standard used to decide whether deadly force was justified by replacing "reasonable" with "necessary." Federal grants would be tied to updating the standard.
• Banning local, state, and federal police from racial, religious and other discriminatory profiling.
• Expanding training to prevent profiling and creating standardized best practices for police departments. Providing grants to community groups to work with police to reverse entrenched discrimination.
• Ending the transfer of police military equipment, such as grenade launchers, to state and local police.
• Mandating police body cameras and dashboard cameras on squad cars.
• Increasing the authority of the U.S. Department of Justice and state attorneys general to investigate police misconduct.
• Making lynching a federal crime.
• Creating a national registry for officers who commit misconduct; requiring all police departments to report use of force incidents delineated by race, sex, age, religion and disability.
It's unclear what the fate of the policy will be in the Republican-controlled Senate. Withholding funding from police departments is expected to be controversial, and pushback from police unions is likely.
"We cannot let ourselves accept that in the United States of America, in the year 2020, black men and women are still being publicly executed without judge or jury in tragic and preventable police-involved deaths," said Duckworth, an Asian American from Hoffman Estates, in a statement.