Washington, D.C. – United States Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) today released the following statement after cosponsoring Senator Tim Scott’s (R-S.C.) police reform legislation:
“I’m glad to cosponsor Senator Tim Scott’s legislation to help states reform our country’s police departments by holding police officers accountable, identifying and encouraging the adoption and use of best practices in community policing, and providing better training to police officers. Senator Scott is the right person to lead on this important issue due to his personal experiences and his ability to bring people together.”
Senator Alexander concluded: “Benjamin Hooks, the former NAACP president from Memphis, said that ‘America is a work in progress. We’ve come a long way, and we have a long way to go.’”
“That long way to go will not be as easy as passing laws – although this legislation will definitely help. It will also take changing behavior.”
Background on the Just and Unifying Solutions to Invigorate Communities Everywhere (JUSTICE) Act:
Encourage police chiefs, states and local officials to make police reforms:
- Creates a federal commission to write best practice guidelines as well as a separate, independent commission to study the criminal justice system.
- Creates a commission on the Social Status of Black Men and Boys—which will issue a wide-ranging report on issues affecting black men and boys, including education, health care, financial status, and the criminal justice system as a whole.
Improve data collection and record keeping to make police officers more accountable:
- Requires states to collect data on no-knock warrants—states that do not would be ineligible for federal law enforcement grants. Additionally, it requires local police departments to collect and report data on the use of force, increases penalties for false reporting by police officers.
- Expands grant programs for police departments to purchase body-worn cameras and penalizes those departments that do not properly use those cameras.
- Increases accountability by conditioning federal grants to data collection by states and local police departments on when their officers use force to detain a suspect.
- Ensures the Federal Bureau of Investigation has access to records when someone dies or is seriously injured in police custody.
Better train police officers:
- Establish programs to train police officers in alternatives to use of force, de-escalation, and when and how it’s appropriate for an officer to intervene in an apprehension.