In March, Congress voted to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act. At the time, there were a lot of self-congratulations and lot of discussions of how this was a great step forward for police accountability.
Since that time, the Act has been lamenting in Senate as lawmakers seem to be at an impasse over the final legislative language.
If enacted, the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act would forbid discriminatory racial and religious profiling, ban chokeholds, no-knock warrants, require police to wear body cameras and release footage upon request, weaken qualified immunity, and provide grants to local commissions and task forces.
This Act would be a tremendous step toward police accountability and a needed law for protecting the public.
Of course, there are public concerns regarding body camera footage. There is no specification in the Act about when the police are required to release body cam footage or if footage needs to be released within a reasonable time. Valentine's Day Campaign believes the camera footage should be released immediately.
The negative to body camera footage is that it could be used as surveillance instead of a tool for police accountability. This would definitely be a negative consequence of the Act. Because of this, we as advocates should be on guard when we see body camera footage being used as surveillance instead of as a police accountability tool.
Right now, the bill sits before a divided Senate and legislators are compromising on the final language of the bill. The Senate hopes to have legislative language finalized by May 25, 2021, the anniversary of George Floyd's death.
It is imperative that the Senate pass this bill. Please contact your Senators and asked them to support the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act. The passage of this bill is a necessary step toward social justice.