Congressman Denny Heck

Congressman Denny Heck 

U.S. Rep. Denny Heck, D-Wash., is cosponsoring legislation recently introduced by Democratic House and Senate leaders that, if passed, would introduce an extra layer of accountability for police officers who violate the civil rights of citizens. 

The Justice in Police Act was introduced on Monday, June 8, in both the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate, according to Heck’s office. 

The bill was introduced by Congressional Black Caucus Chair Karen Bass, D-Calif., and House Judiciary Committee Chair Jerrold Nadler, D-New York, in the House. Sen. Corey Booker, D-New Jersey, and Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., introduced the bill in the Senate. 

Noting that a single bill cannot completely fix the system of inequality in the country, Heck said the bill takes a “comprehensive approach to police accountability” and noted that the bill is a necessary first step to addressing problems that affect officer accountability.  

“I will never know what it is like to see flashing lights or hear a siren and wonder whether the people entrusted with my protection will truly protect me, or whether they will see me as a threat,” Heck said in a prepared statement. “Yet that is a thought shared by so many black Americans every single day … I pledge to continue listening to my colleagues and working with them to bring about lasting progress” 

The bill has 166 cosponsors in the House and 33 cosponsors in the Senate. 

If passed, the Justice in Police Act would implement the following policies, according to Heck’s office: 

• Prohibit federal, state and local law enforcement from profiling based on race or religion. 

• Ban the use of chokeholds and no-knock warrants by federal law enforcement. 

• Require federal law enforcement to use body cameras and dashboard cameras, and require state and local law enforcement to use existing federal funds to ensure the use of body cameras. 

• Create a national police misconduct registry so that other jurisdictions are aware of misconduct by specific officers. 

• Change the federal statute used to prosecute police misconduct from “wilfulness” standard to a “recklessness” standard. 

• Reform qualified immunity so individuals can recover damages when police violate their constitutional rights. 

• Require state and local law enforcement to report use of force data by race, sex disability, relition and age. 

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