Durbin Calls On Senator McConnell To Bring Justice In Policing Act To Floor For A Vote

WASHINGTON – On the day of George Floyd’s burial service, U.S. Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) called on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to bring the Justice in Policing Act of 2020 to the floor for a vote.  The legislation proposes a comprehensive approach to hold police accountable for misconduct, change the culture of law enforcement, and build trust between law enforcement and our communities.  In a speech on the Senate floor, Durbin also noted that justice in America will require more than improving law enforcement – it will also require investment in opportunities for quality education, medical care that meets the highest standards, jobs with livable wages, and safe, affordable housing.

“How many more names of Black men, women, and children will we cry out in protest before things change?  We need to have an honest American conversation with law enforcement officers about training, inherent bias, use of force, and consequences for wrongdoing.  We need to prohibit police misconduct that is discriminatory and deadly.  We must recruit and train the next generation of law enforcement to protect and serve everyone in America.  And we need to invest in social services instead of expecting law enforcement to intervene in crisis situations that they’re not equipped to deal with.  This will require U.S. Senators, other legislators, to continue to undo the damage of a criminal justice system that is unfair in many respects,” Durbin said.  “Most importantly, it will require those of us with privilege and power to step back and listen to African Americans affected by pervasive, systemic racism.”

Durbin continued, “I call on Senator McConnell to do more than just give speeches about George Floyd.  I call on him to bring the Justice in Policing Act to the floor as soon as possible… We owe it to George Floyd, to Breonna Taylor, to Ahmaud Arbery, and all of the Black and brown lives we that we’ve lost in these brutal acts of racial injustice."

Footage of Durbin’s remarks on the Senate floor is available here.

Video of Durbin’s remarks on the Senate floor is available here.

Audio of Durbin’s remarks on the Senate floor is available here.

Among other initiatives, the Justice in Policing Act of 2020:

  • Prohibits federal, state, and local law enforcement from racial, religious and discriminatory profiling, and mandates training on racial, religious, and discriminatory profiling for all law enforcement.
  • Bans chokeholds, carotid holds and no-knock warrants at the federal level and limits the transfer of military-grade equipment to state and local law enforcement.
  • Mandates the use of dashboard cameras and body cameras for federal offices and requires state and local law enforcement to use existing federal funds to ensure the use of police body cameras.
  • Creates law enforcement development and training programs to develop best practices and requires the creation of law enforcement accreditation standard recommendations based on President Obama’s Taskforce on 21st Century policing.
  • Improves the use of pattern and practice investigations at the federal level by granting the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division subpoena power and creates a grant program for state attorneys general to develop authority to conduct independent investigations into problematic police departments.

A fact sheet on the Justice in Policing Act of 2020 is available here.

When Durbin chaired the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Human Rights, he held several hearings on race in America, including his last hearing as Chairman in December 2014 on the State of Civil and Human Rights in the United States.