Senator Collins Joins Colleagues in Introducing the JUSTICE Act - a Comprehensive Police Reform Bill

The JUSTICE Act would increase law enforcement accountability and transparency

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Susan Collins joined a group of her colleagues led by Senator Tim Scott (R-SC) in introducing the Just and Unifying Solutions to Invigorate Communities Everywhere (JUSTICE) Act. The legislation provides long-term solutions focused on police reform, accountability, and transparency, while also promoting efforts to find solutions to systemic issues affecting people of color such as education and health disparities.

 

“The horrific killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis was a crime and laid bare the racial injustice that still taints our country.  It is incumbent on all of us to make genuine progress toward the American ideal of ensuring that everyone, regardless of race or ethnicity, is treated equally,” said Senator Collins.  “The JUSTICE Act would implement commonsense reforms that would help restore trust in our law enforcement, particularly among communities of color, while continuing to support the vast majority of officers who serve with integrity and valor.  I’m proud to join my friend, Senator Scott, in introducing this legislation, and I look forward to the Senate’s consideration of it next week.  I believe that we can reach a bipartisan consensus on solutions to racial inequality in policing.”

 

The full text of the JUSTICE Act is HERE, and a section by section analysis is HERE. A summary is below.

 

Law Enforcement Reform

 

  • The JUSTICE Act would strengthen the training methods and tactics throughout law enforcement jurisdictions, especially regarding de-escalation of force and the duty to intervene, providing law enforcement with new funding to do so, and penalizing departments that do not end the practice of using chokeholds.

 

  • Additionally, the bill would reform hiring practices by providing more resources to ensure the composition of police departments more closely matches the communities they serve.

 

  • The JUSTICE Act would also ensure that when a candidate is interviewed, the department looking to hire would have access to their prior disciplinary records.  Too often, after a tragic incident, we have learned the offending officer had a disciplinary past in another jurisdiction of which their current employer was unaware.

 

Accountability

 

  • Studies show that when body cameras are properly used, violent encounters decrease significantly.  The JUSTICE Act would put more body cameras on the streets and ensure that departments are both using the cameras and storing their data properly.

 

  • The JUSTICE Act would also require a report establishing best practices for the hiring, firing, suspension, and discipline of law enforcement officers.

 

Transparency

 

  • Currently, only about 40 percent of police officers from jurisdictions nationwide report to the FBI after an incident where an officer has discharged his or her weapon or used force.  The JUSTICE Act would require full reporting in these two areas.

 

  • There is also very little data as to when, where, and why no knock warrants are used, and the JUSTICE Act would require reporting in this area as well.

 

Additional Steps

 

  • The JUSTICE Act includes the Justice for Victims of Lynching Act, which Senator Collins co-sponsored, that would finally make lynching a federal crime.

 

  • It also includes the Commission on the Social Status of Black Men and Boys Act and the National Criminal Justice Commission Act, both of which Senator Collins co-sponsored.  The two commissions would study and offer solutions to a broader range of challenges facing black men and boys and the criminal justice system as a whole.