Top progressive lawmaker unveils bill requiring national police training standards

Top progressive lawmaker unveils bill requiring national police training standards
© Aaron Schwartz

One of the leaders of the Congressional Progressive Caucus unveiled legislation on Friday that would establish national training standards for police on both the use of force and implicit bias. 

The proposal from Rep. Mark PocanMark William PocanSteyer endorses Markey in Massachusetts Senate primary Celebrities fundraise for Markey ahead of Massachusetts Senate primary Why Veterans Affairs workers don't trust the Trump administration MORE (D-Wis.) would make federal grant funding for state and local law enforcement agencies contingent upon police department meeting training requirements on de-escalation practices, the use of force and combating bias in confrontations with civilians. A civilian commission would be responsible for setting the training standards.

"Everyone needs to believe that all law enforcement officers have met national standardized requirements for training and civilian interaction. Federal dollars should not go to police that communities simply do not trust," Pocan said in a statement. "From Florida to Washington, Maine to California, there should be a common standard for law enforcement."

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Members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) are slated to unveil a package of police reforms on Monday in response to the civil unrest over a pattern of unarmed African Americans dying in encounters with police, including George Floyd, who died after a now-former Minneapolis police officer held him down for several minutes by kneeling on his neck.

The package is expected to include CBC priorities such as banning the use of chokeholds and ending the Defense Department program to provide surplus military-grade weapons to local law enforcement departments.

Establishing training standards for police is also a top legislative priority.

A group of House Democrats, led by CBC member Rep. Sheila Jackson LeeSheila Jackson LeeHouse to vote on removing bust of Supreme Court justice who wrote Dred Scott ruling Black Caucus unveils next steps to combat racism Reparations bill gains steam following death of George Floyd MORE (D-Texas), introduced legislation on Thursday named after Floyd that would require the Justice Department to study existing law enforcement accreditation standards and make recommendations for developing additional standards for police agencies. It would also require law enforcement agencies to report data on the use of deadly force and establish a Justice Department-led task force to coordinate police misconduct investigations.

"Transparency and integrity from police departments across the nation is not too much to ask," Jackson Lee said.

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Progressive Caucus leaders, including Pocan, and Reps. Pramila JayapalPramila JayapalProgressive lawmakers call for conditions on Israel aid Hillicon Valley: Democrats introduce bill banning federal government use of facial recognition tech | House lawmakers roll out legislation to establish national cyber director | Top federal IT official to step down Democratic lawmakers introduce legislation banning government use of facial recognition technologies MORE (D-Wash.) and Ilhan OmarIlhan OmarThe Hill's Campaign Report: Colorado, Utah primary results bring upsets, intrigue Progressive lawmakers call for conditions on Israel aid Black lives and the CBC: What happens to a dream deferred? MORE (D-Minn.), also plan to introduce legislation that would require congressional approval before a president can invoke the Insurrection Act to deploy the armed forces in circumstances like containing riots.

Trump this week warned that he would deploy the military if state and local officials weren't able to contain the protests and riots sparked by anger over Floyd's death.

“If a city or state refuses to take the actions that are necessary to defend the life and property of their residents, then I will deploy the U.S. military and quickly solve the problem for them," Trump said.

House Democrats intend to move legislation as soon as this month to make police reforms. Following the release of the CBC proposals on Monday, the House Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on Wednesday to discuss use of force and racial profiling by police.