After weeks of protests and demands for justice and change in our community, throughout the nation, and around the world, we must confront the fact that our policing system is broken. This reality presents both a challenge and a rare opportunity to all of us, but in particular to our elected officials, to transform that system. Now is the time to act.
This week, I am laying out my vision for the systemic transformation of our policing function and public safety for our community.
Today, I want to introduce you to the first part of my plan. We must end police violence, hold police accountable, and ensure that each and every citizen’s constitutional rights are respected and protected.
The first step to ending police violence must be to demilitarize our police forces. Our neighborhoods are not war zones and we should not be treated like enemy combatants. The militarization of our police makes our communities less safe, and I will do all in my power to end it.
I am also calling for clearly defined legal standards to protect our constitutional rights and ensure police accountability whenever there is misconduct. We must end qualified immunity for law enforcement, establish clear use of force standards grounded in the Constitution, and end police sexual violence by prohibiting sexual contact between police officers and any person whom they have detained.
I also believe we must strengthen federal oversight of local police departments to prevent and remedy violations of our Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights. To do so, I am proposing the Systemic Justice in Policing Act, modeled on the 1965 Voting Rights Act.
In 1965, Congress passed the Voting Rights Act, which allowed the federal government to bring certain local jurisdictions under direct federal supervision, enact immediate reforms, and review any proposed changes to voting and election procedures for bias. This direct response was needed after it was concluded the traditional tools of federal enforcement to eliminate efforts to discriminate, disenfranchise, and suppress Black voters did not work.
We have a similar constitutional crisis in policing on our hands, and we must take aggressive action to protect the constitutional rights of all civilians.. The Department of Justice currently does not have the resources to investigate all alleged instances of misconduct violating the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments. And when they do intervene, the relief is too little, too late.
The Systemic Justice in Policing Act would address violations of the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments, including unlawful stops, searches, seizures, and arrests, excessive use of force, and racial bias or racial profiling in the conduct of policing.
Delivering community justice in public safety requires a multifaceted, bold approach. Two of the key steps involved in achieving justice must be to reduce police violence and to dramatically expand oversight of law enforcement to end the systematic violations of our constitutional rights.
The second part of my plan, which will be shared in more detail later this week, focuses on investing in non-police community services that better reflect our values and promote public safety.
You can read my Community Justice Agenda here.