public-policy newsletter

Human Services are an Essential Part of Policing Reform

June 16, 2020

Nonprofit human service providers are on the frontlines every day building the foundations of communal well-being in towns and cities across our country. As members of these communities, we witness the corrosive effects of racism in our systems and institutions and are committed to eliminating it. The current turmoil and police violence in our streets is evidence that American law enforcement requires an immediate structural overhaul. As part of this effort to build a more equitable relationship between police departments and the public, House and Senate Democrats introduced on Monday the Justice in Policing Act (H.R. 7120), a legislative package designed to improve police accountability, transparency, and training. If passed, this legislation would take significant steps in curbing police misconduct that has gone unaddressed for decades.

The most prominent components of this bill include:

  1. Prohibiting the use of racial, religious, and discriminatory profiling.
  2. Banning the use of chokeholds and no-knock warrants.
  3. Amending the “qualified immunity” doctrine to give victims of illegal police behavior greater ability to hold officers accountable.
  4. Mandating the use of body and dashboard cameras for law enforcement.
  5. Requiring states and local jurisdictions to collect data on police misconduct and use-of-force.

The National Assembly strongly supports the Justice in Policing Act as a first step in shifting how we create safety in all of our communities. Though this bill addresses many of the topline and immediate issues associated with policing, more is needed to change the institutional underpinnings of our broken policing system. The fact is that over the past 40 years, policymakers have asked police departments to intervene in an ever-growing share of societal issues, such as homelessness and mental health. Most problems facing our communities do not require a police officer to be resolved, and often armed intervention only exacerbates deeply rooted inequities. That is why the National Assembly urges Congress to introduce additional legislation that redirects funding towards community-based solutions like childcare, after school programs, job training, restorative justice programs, and public housing, which are proven to reduce crime and poverty. The human service community is ready, willing, and able to take a greater share of responsibility in strengthening our communities. Give us the tools, and we will do the job.

For further information on the Justice in Police Act check out the National Assembly’s bill analysis.