WASHINGTON—Congressman Paul D. Tonko voted last night to pass H.R. 1280: the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act. This life-saving legislation takes steps—including ending the use of all chokeholds—to put community safety and justice for all at the heart of policing culture in America. The bill takes unprecedented and needed steps to curb police brutality, end racial profiling, eliminate qualified immunity for law enforcement and build greater bonds of trust between members of law enforcement and the communities they serve.
“America experienced a new awakening after the killing of George Floyd last year as we witnessed—yet again—the persistent and deadly costs of systemic racism that has long pervaded our most venerated institutions,” Tonko said. “In the months that followed, I was proud to see people from every walk of life don their masks and exercise their First Amendment rights to peacefully protest these injustices. Sadly, incidents of unnecessary and unjustified violence at the hands of our police officers continues to be a persistent problem across the country. And our communities of color, people with mental health disorders and other vulnerable groups disproportionately bear the brunt of this violence, a violation of our cherished principle of equality under the law.”
Tonko added, “I stand with our communities across the Capital Region and beyond as we say clearly and unequivocally: Black Lives Matter. This is a principle grounded in America’s ideals of liberty and justice for all, yet it is one that has been systematically denied to far too many of our loved ones, friends and neighbors of color. We must not let the agony of racism, so often renewed by this kind of bloodshed, fade from our conscience. We must act now to reform those institutions and save the lives of those at risk of becoming their victims. I was proud to stand with the Congressional Black Caucus and many of my other colleagues in the House to once again pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act that will deliver the urgent, critical reforms America needs to root out systemic racism anywhere it exists in policing, while increasing transparency and putting the safety and well-being of our families and communities first.”
The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act will take numerous key steps to achieve transformative, structural change to combat the pattern of police brutality and racial injustice, including:
- Banning all chokeholds;
- Banning no-knock warrants in drug cases;
- Ending racial, religious and discriminatory profiling;
- Eliminating the qualified immunity doctrine that is a barrier to holding police officers accountable for wrongful conduct;
- Establishing a National Police Misconduct Registry to improve transparency and prevent problematic officers who are fired or leave one agency, from moving to another jurisdiction without any accountability;
- Requiring data collection, including mandatory body cameras and dashboard cameras;
- Establishing new standards for policing and the Public Safety Innovation grants for community-based organizations to help reimagine policing in their communities; and more.