Durbin Joins Booker To Press For Vote On Justice In Policing Act

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) today joined Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) on the Senate floor to press 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 my home state, I’ve been to several rallies in the City of Chicago by leaders in the community, religious and otherwise, but the meetings that I’ve attended that had the most impact on me have been organized by high school students,” Durbin said.  “This last Sunday, I went to Jerseyville, Illinois… the people who showed up are by-and-large young people – Black, White, Brown people – who come there begging for freedom and liberty and hoping we can do something in Washington, and why shouldn’t we?  Isn’t it the reason we ran for these offices to address the issues of the day in our time?  To take on the tough chores of finding compromise when it looks like it’s impossible?  I think we can do this, and I know that we must.”

Durbin also noted that while passage of major policing reform legislation may seem difficult to accomplish, in December 2018, Congress and the White House came together to pass reforms to America’s prison and sentencing system to reduce recidivism, save taxpayer dollars, and promote safe communities.  The bipartisan First Step Act was co-authored by Durbin and Senators Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Mike Lee (R-UT), and Cory Booker (D-NJ).

“The team was ultimately successful, and to the surprise of everyone in Washington, President Trump signed it into law, the First Step Act,” Durbin said.  “So those who are skeptical that what we’re about here cannot result in legislation have ignored the obvious that is something that occurred in the last year or two, with this White House, with this President, with a Republican majority in the Senate.  We did something significant.  We can do it again, and we should."

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.