Congressman Reintroduces Grand Jury Reform, Bills That Hold Police Accountable to Public
WASHINGTON, D.C. – On Nov. 9, Rep. Hank Johnson (GA-04), a senior member of the House Judiciary Committee, introduced a package of criminal justice reform bills seeking to restore trust between police and the communities they serve and level the playing field to root out discrimination and disparities in the system.
“I support our law enforcement officers,” said Johnson. “They have a difficult job to uphold the law and to protect and serve the American people and to keep them safe from harm’s way. They should be commended and we owe them a tremendous debt of gratitude. But law enforcement officers are not above the law and should be held accountable like anyone else.”
The Cooling Off Period Elimination Act of 2017 or the COPE Act, H.R. 4330, would condition federal grant money on the elimination of cooling-off periods for police officers charged with misconduct. The bill seeks a partial roll back of controversial Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights or LEOBR provisions, which extends extra-constitutional privileges and protections to police officers that are otherwise not unavailable to non-law enforcement and often make holding offending officers unaccountable.
Rep. Johnson once again introduced the Police Accountability Act – H.R. 4331 – that would expand the Department of Justice’s authority to investigate wrongdoing by police by making it a federal crime for police officers to commit murder and manslaughter.
Responding to calls that the nation’s grand jury system is broken when police are investigated for the killing of civilians, Rep. Johnson filed the Grand Jury Reform Act, H.R. 4332, which would require the appointment of a special prosecutor to conduct an investigation and present the results to a judge in a probable cause hearing, open to the public, whenever a police officer kills an individual while acting in the line of duty.
“People are rightfully demanding an end to unequal justice, and that those who are responsible for the use of excessive force be brought to justice,” said Johnson. “These bills will help ensure a more thorough review of cases involving law enforcement officers, keep bad officers off the streets and begin the necessary healing process needed to regain the trust and respect between communities and the police.”
Cosponsors of the bills include Judiciary Committee Ranking Member John Conyers (MI-13), Ranking Member of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Elijah Cummings (MD-07), Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC), David Scott (GA-13), Keith Ellison (MN-05), David Cicilline (RI-01), Raul Grijalva (AZ-03) and Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ-12).