Congress Is Eyeing Legislative Solutions To Police Brutality, Including Jason Crow

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David Zalubowski/AP
Graffiti covers a sheet of plywood used to cover the front window of a restaurant over the death of George Floyd, Saturday, May 30, 2020, in Denver. Protests were held throughout the country over the death of Floyd, a black man who died after being restrained by Minneapolis police officers on May 25.

Colorado Rep. Jason Crow has joined other House Democrats to introduce legislation that aims to enhance police accountability and minimize police misconduct. 

The legislation is called the George Floyd Law Enforcement Trust and Integrity Act and focuses on building trust between police departments and the community. Crow introduced this bill with veteran Reps. Sheila Jackson Lee, Jerrold Nadler and Karen Bass, chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus, as well as fellow freshman Ilhan Omar.

“The main goal is to restore accountability, transparency to law enforcement, and trust between law enforcement and the communities that they serve,” Crow said. 

The bill is named after Floyd, whose death while in Minneapolis police custody has sparked a wave of protests across the nation.

But Crow had been working on this bill for months since he spoke with the mother of Elijah McClain, a young black man who died while in Aurora police custody in August of last year

“And out of that conversation came some ideas for how we were going to address and lead on this issue,” he said.

The bill calls for better recruitment and training for police departments; the adoption of performance-based standards to ensure that use of deadly force or misconduct is properly investigated; the creation of pilot programs to find best practices on law enforcement development; and allocates $28 million to enforce federal civil rights statutes. 

It would also establish a task force to coordinate the investigation and prosecution efforts of law enforcement misconduct, as well as creating a mechanism to collect data on police practices. 

“So we can understand what’s happening during traffic stops and other police encounters and we can start addressing some of the bias that occurs on our streets,” Crow explained.

The bill is based on research done on reducing violence by and against law enforcement officers, as well as recommendations made by the Obama Administration’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing. That group was established after the killing of Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager, by a police officer in 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri.

Congressional leaders on both sides of the aisle in the House have indicated a desire to try and pass legislation to deal with the issues Floyd’s death has magnified.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said today that House Democrats plans to release bills Monday that, “protect) equal justices and including a number of provisions ending racial profiling, ending excessive use of force, ending … the qualified immunity doctrine and addressing the loss of trust between police departments and communities they serve. We will not relent until that justice is secured.”

Republican Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said today that while one piece of legislation won’t take away racism, he’s discussing with his caucus ways to move forward on this issue, such as improved training or finding a better way to see reports of misuse of force by police officers.

Colorado Rep. Ed Perlmutter has urged House leaders to take up a number of bills that have been introduced to address excessive use of force by the police and racial profiling.

“This is a difficult moment for us. There’s a lot of work to do in this country as we recover from the coronavirus health emergency and its economic fallout and from the inequality and injustice that exists and the violence and unrest it has uncovered. Together, we have to address these issues now,” he said in a statement.

Editor's Note: A previous version of this misstated how Rep. Jason Crow and Elijah McClain's mother met — they spoke over the phone, not in an in-person meeting.