Pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act


This week, the nation will mark the first anniversary of the death of George Floyd at the hands of ex-Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, who was convicted of murder, among other charges.

Never has the death of an unarmed Black man at the hands of police reverberated so loudly and so powerfully here on the streets of Nassau County. Protests that in the past were largely confined to big cities came to our suburban streets last June — and rightly so.

It was critical that the protests play out across the country, in all sorts of neighborhoods, to send a clear message that Floyd’s death was unacceptable and that we, as a nation, are demanding change.

Sadly, however, killings of unarmed Black men have continued since Floyd’s death. That is why we need the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act to be signed into law. The measure passed the House of Representatives, but has yet to pass the Senate.

The bill would:

  • Lower the criminal intent standard — from willful to knowing or reckless — to convict a law enforcement officer for misconduct in a federal prosecution.
  • Limit qualified immunity as a defense to liability in a private civil action against a law enforcement officer. Qualified immunity generally grants government officials performing their jobs immunity from civil lawsuits.
  • Grant administrative subpoena power to the Department of Justice in pattern-or-practice investigations, which examine patterns or practices of excessive force and biased policing by law enforcement officers.

How none of these measures is on the books as part of federal law now is confounding, particularly after all that has transpired over the past year.

We need to hold the bad cops accountable for their acts, which in turn strengthens the standing of the vast majority of law enforcement officers who are essential, dedicated professionals who serve the communities with integrity.  

It’s about time that the Senate acts on the legislation — and passes it. We urge our readers to write to their senators in support of the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act.

How to contact your senators

You can email Senate
Majority Leader Chuck Schumer
at https://www.schumer.senate.gov/contact/email-chuck.
Email U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand
at https://www.gillibrand.senate.gov/contact/email-me.