In New Video, Durbin Speaks With Georgetown Law Professor & Longtime DOJ Civil Rights Attorney On Systemic Racism & Justice In Policing Act

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, spoke with Professor Christy Lopez of Georgetown Law about the Justice in Policing Act of 2020, changing the culture of law enforcement, and building trust between law enforcement and our communities.  Professor Lopez was a longtime U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) Civil Rights Division career attorney who led the Ferguson policing investigation and was also involved in the Chicago Police Department investigation. 

“I’m thankful to Professor Lopez for joining me in an important conversation about fundamental issues of racial injustice in our nation.    The anger and pain that we have seen at demonstrations across the country following the heartbreaking killing of George Floyd is a reflection of generations of trauma.  People are exhausted by pervasive, systemic racism that has led to devastating injustices across the United States,” Durbin said.  “Professor Lopez and I had an honest conversation about law enforcement training, racial profiling, use of force, and consequences for wrongdoing.  We owe it to George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and all of the Black and Brown lives we have lost in these brutal acts of racial injustice to continue this conversation and to take action to bring about justice and accountability.”

Video of Durbin’s conversation with Professor Lopez is available here.

Footage of Durbin’s conversation with Professor Lopez is available here for TV Stations.

Last week, Durbin joined Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Kamala Harris (D-CA) to introduce the Justice in Policing Act of 2020.  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.

Christy E. Lopez joined the Georgetown Law faculty as a Distinguished Visitor from Practice in 2017. From 2010 to 2017, Professor Lopez served as a Deputy Chief in the Special Litigation Section of the Civil Rights Division at the U.S. Department of Justice.  Professor Lopez led the Division’s group conducting pattern-or-practice investigations of police departments and other law enforcement agencies, including litigating and negotiating settlement agreements to resolve investigative findings. Professor Lopez also helped coordinate the Department’s broader efforts to ensure constitutional policing.

Professor Lopez directly led the team that investigated the Ferguson Police Department and was a primary drafter of the Ferguson Report and negotiator of the Ferguson consent decree. She also led investigations of many other law enforcement agencies, including the Chicago Police Department, the New Orleans Police Department, the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department, the Newark (New Jersey) Police Department, and the Missoula, Montana investigation. The Missoula matter was the Division’s first pattern-or-practice investigation to focus on the collective law enforcement response to allegations of sexual assault, and the first to focus on a prosecutor’s office. Professor Lopez helped formulate and draft the DOJ statement of interest in the Floyd litigation, challenging the New York Police Department’s stop-and-frisk practices, as well as DOJ guidance released in 2015 on preventing gender bias in the law enforcement response to sexual assault and domestic violence.

At Georgetown, Professor Lopez teaches courses on Criminal Justice and Police/Criminal Justice Reform. She also co-leads Georgetown Law’s Program on Innovative Policing. She currently serves as an Advisor on the American Law Institute (ALI) Principles of Law, Policing. She authored the 2010 American Constitution Society Issue Brief, “Disorderly (mis)Conduct: The Problem with ‘Contempt of Cop’ Arrests.” She has previously taught law school courses on unlawful racial, national origin, and religious profiling, and on negotiations. Professor Lopez is licensed to practice law in Washington, D.C. and California.