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Castor: ‘New Paradigm for Policing America Is Overdue’

Kathy Castor | Politics | TB Reporter

Kathy Castor praised the passage by Congress of the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2020.

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Tampa, released this statement after the U.S. House of Representatives passed the historic George Floyd Justice in Policing Act on Thursday (June 25) night:

“The George Floyd Justice In Policing Act of 2020 answers the widespread calls to reform police practices and tackle systemic racism across America. I have listened to my Tampa-area neighbors and their calls for ‘justice’ during marches, prayers and protests. Black lives matter, and I dedicate my vote to the generations of our Tampa neighbors who have suffered the unfair burdens of discrimination, disrespect and violence due to the color of their skin.

“George Floyd. Rayshard Brooks. Breonna Taylor. Eric Garner. Tamir Rice. Sandra Bland. Michael Brown. John Crawford. Too many lives, over too many years, cut short at the hands of officers who are supposed to protect us. House Democrats acted decisively to ensure that law enforcement officials are held accountable and that lives are saved. The time for change is now.  In fact, a new paradigm for policing America is overdue.

“House Democrats acted swiftly to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act to answer the calls for action from millions who have marched and protested for meaningful reform. I wish the GOP-controlled Senate would have met the moment, but the weak Senate bill fell far short and was panned by the Leadership Conference of Civil Rights and Human Rights, leading civil rights groups and the family of George Floyd. The Senate bill did not contain any mechanisms to hold law enforcement officers accountable in court for their misconduct or end harmful policing practices, including racial and religious profiling, no knock warrants in drug cases, and choke holds. I urge the Senate to take up the House’s historic reforms and move beyond half-measures. Hear the cries to end systemic racism, stop police brutality and re-imagine policing.”

Click here for a video of Castor’s floor speech.

Gwen Carr, mother of Eric Garner; Samaria Rice, mother of Tamir Rice; and John Crawford, Jr., father of John Crawford III endorsed the Justice in Policing Act, saying, “The unjust killing of a loved one, especially at the hands of law enforcement, is a pain too many families have been forced to endure. We are proud to support this effort because it’s the right thing to do. From banning choke holds to eliminating no-knock warrants, this bill will hold officers accountable to the communities they serve and compel them to have a guardian mentality, not a warrior mentality. In the valiant pursuit of justice, this is a strong step in the right direction.”

The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act is supported by civil rights organizations that include the NAACP, National Action Network, National Urban League, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, the National Partnership for Women and Families, and The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights.

The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2020 will:

1. Hold police accountable in our courts by:

  • Amending the mens rea requirement in 18 U.S.C. Section 242, the federal criminal statute to prosecute police misconduct, from “willfulness” to a “recklessness” standard;
  • Reforming qualified immunity so that individuals are not entirely barred from recovering damages when police violate their constitutional rights;
  • Improving the use of pattern and practice investigations at the federal level by granting the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division subpoena power and incentivizing state attorneys general to conduct pattern and practice investigations;
  • Incentivizing states to create independent investigative structures for police involved deaths through grants; and
  • Creating best practices recommendations based on the Obama 21st Century Policing Task force.

2. Improve transparency into policing by collecting better and more accurate data of police misconduct and use-of-force by:

  • Creating a National Police Misconduct Registry to prevent problem-officers from changing jurisdictions to avoid accountability; and
  • Mandating state and local law enforcement agencies report use of force data, disaggregated by race, sex, disability, religion, age.

3. Improve police training and practices by:

  • Ending racial and religious profiling;
  • Mandating training on racial bias and the duty to intervene;
  • Banning no-knock warrants in drug cases;
  • Banning chokeholds and carotid holds;
  • Changing the standard to evaluate whether law enforcement use of force was justified from whether the force was reasonable to whether the force was necessary;
  • Limiting the transfer of military-grade equipment to state and local law enforcement;
  • Requiring federal uniformed police officers to wear body cameras; and
  • Requiring state and local law enforcement to use existing federal funds to ensure the use of police body cameras.

4. Make lynching a federal crime by:

  • Making it a federal crime to conspire to violate existing federal hate crimes laws.

Castor represents Florida’s 14th Congressional District, which includes Tampa and a portion of Hillsborough County.


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