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Washington Report – June 19, 2020

Posted by: jgomori Posted date: June 22, 2020

On June 10, the House Judiciary Committee held an oversight hearing on “Policing Practices and Law Enforcement Accountability” which focused on officers use of lethal force, officer accountability and transparency in policing. NAPO sent two letters to the House Judiciary Committee: one in response to the hearing and the entire process and one outlining our most significant concerns with the Justice in Policing Act. Several Committee Republicans voiced support for amending qualified immunity but could not support its elimination. The House is  scheduled to vote on the Justice in Policing Act on June 25 and it is expected to pass the House on a party line vote; The Senate Judiciary Committee held an oversight hearing on “Police Use of Force and Community Relations” June 16, which included two panels of witnesses comprised of community leaders, politicians, civil rights proponents and academics, federal prosecutors and local law enforcement representatives. Much of this hearing also focused on qualified immunity, with panelists strongly split on whether it needs to be eliminated – the law enforcement witnesses against the elimination and the others for it. The discussion around qualified immunity continued on the Senate floor June 17, prompting us to send a letter to Chairman Graham explaining why this is a red line issue for us; Senator Tim Scott (R-SC) introduced the Just and Unifying Solutions To Invigorate Communities Everywhere (JUSTICE) Act (S. 3985) on June 17.  NAPO worked closely with Senator Scott and Senate Judiciary Committee staff on this legislation and they have largely taken into account our concerns around ensuring officer due process, protecting qualified immunity for officers, supporting the National Consensus Policy on Use of Force which NAPO helped author, and guarding officer privacy and confidentiality rights; On June 16, NAPO Executive Director Bill Johnson was at the White House to witness President Trump sign the Executive Order on Safe Policing for Safe Communities. In the Executive Order, it is evident that the President listened to the voice of rank-and-file law enforcement, the practitioners on the streets most impacted by these reforms; It has been a month since the Democrats passed the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act, H.R. 6800, which provided extensive aid in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. While the need for aid increases, particularly for state and local governments who are facing serious budget holes and revenue shortages, the Senate has taken no action on the HEROES Act or created a proposal of their own.

For more on these and other legislative issues, please click on the June 19, 2020 Washington Report and related links below.

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