Velazquez Bill Would Impose New Standards, Penalties for Police Abuses
Washington, DC - Rep. Nydia M. Velázquez (D-NY) has authored legislation, the “Law Enforcement Oversight and Reform Act,” which would implement tough new standards for law enforcement officers. In addition to banning chokeholds, the measure would institute new penalties when police officers act recklessly and use disproportionate force.
“New Yorkers and the American people have made their voices heard,” Velázquez said. “The time for change is now. We need meaningful change and that includes holding accountable police who abuse their authority.”
According to one study, between 2013 and 2019, 99% of police killings resulted in no chargers being brought against involved officers. Under Velázquez’s bill, police officers who recklessly use excessive force in civil rights violations that result in death or serious bodily harm could face up to life in prison. Lesser offenses would engender fines beginning at $10,000. The measure would also ban the use of chokeholds at the federal level, a step already being taken by many, but not all, localities.
“Until police officers fully understand they will be held responsible for their conduct, we’ll continue seeing people of color and Black people especially lose their lives at the hands of police,” Velázquez added. “The time for change is long overdue.”
The legislation also requires states to have similar laws preventing such civil rights violations. Under her bill, states have until the fiscal year after the year of enactment to have such law on their books before losing eligibility for Edward Byrne Justice Grants.
“If local and state police departments expect to receive federal funds, they need to be held to the highest standards,” Velázquez continued. “As we reimagine policing in America, we need to be certain federal dollars are not financing police abuses and this bill will ensure any locality receiving such funds holds officers accountable for bad behavior.”
“Our nation is having a long overdue conversation about racism and policing in America. I’ll continue fighting for tough changes like these, even as we work concurrently at the local level to reduce the size of police forces and channel resources instead to educational and other social services,” Velázquez concluded.
Velázquez’s bill has been referred to the House Judiciary Committee.