WASHINGTON — House and Senate Democrats introduced today a sweeping new police reform bill that would allow the use of force only as a last resort, ban chokeholds, prohibit racial and religious profiling, and make it easier to hold police accountable for misconduct, among other dramatic changes.
In the following statement, Kanya Bennett, senior legislative counsel at the American Civil Liberties Union, highlighted the need for congressional leaders to step up to help fix the problem of police violence in America:
“The bill introduced today takes significant steps to protect people and ensure accountability against police violence. But the legislation also provides hundreds of millions more to law enforcement, and for the ACLU, that’s a nonstarter. While many of the reforms in this bill are laudable and vital, more must be done to change the role of police in our society fundamentally. There can be no more Band-Aid or temporary fixes when it comes to policing, which is why we are calling for divestment from law enforcement agencies and reinvestment into the Black and Brown communities that have been harmed by over-policing and mass incarceration. The role of the police has to be smaller, more circumscribed, and less funded with taxpayer dollars.
“For an issue as deeply rooted in the racist history of our country as police brutality, it is clear that despite public outrage, we cannot look to the Trump administration for leadership on the issue, and that Congress must set the tone. As the bill moves toward committee consideration, the ACLU will work to ensure that federal dollars are spent investing in the kinds of services that help build stable, safe Black and Brown communities. Funneling this money into law enforcement represents a missed opportunity to fix the hurtful legacy that police violence has left on these communities.”