U.S. Policing & Reforms

Failed Congressional Reforms

In past years, legislators have introduced reform bills in Congress to provide additional restraints on police use of force, though few have actually been passed. In the 114th Congress, which ended in 2016, these included:

  • Excessive Use of Force Prevention Act of 2015 (H.R. 2052), which would have criminalized the use of chokeholds
  • Police Accountability Act of 2015 (H.R. 1102), which would have created a new federal crime for certain homicides committed by law enforcement officers
  • Law Enforcement Trust and Integrity Act (H.R. 2875, S. 2168), which would have provided police with resources to increase trust between police and community
  • End Racial Profiling Act (H.R. 1933, S. 1056), which would have prohibited racial profiling and other biased policing
  • Preventing Tragedies Between Police and Communities Act (H.R. 5221), which would have required police training on de-escalation techniques
  • Stop Militarizing Law Enforcement Act (H.R. 1232, S. 1441), which would have prohibited the use of  military-grade weapons in state policing;
  • Police CAMERA Act (H.R. 1680, S. 877), which would have aided state and local police in developing usage of body-worn cameras
  • DUE PROCESS Act (H.R. 5283, S. 3045), which had to do with civil asset forfeiture.

Further, legislators have tried to place reporting requirements on states in order to allow the federal government to fully gather information on use of force through bill proposals. These included:

  • National Statistics on Deadly Force Transparency Act of 2015 (H.R. 306)
  • Police Reporting Information, Data, and Evidence Act of 2015 (PRIDE Act) (s. 1476, H.R.. 3481)
  • President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing

ACLU, The ACLU Implores Congress to Consider Taking up Law Enforcement Reform Legislation (2016), https://www.aclu.org/letter/aclu-implores-congress-consider-taking-law-enforcement-reform-legislation.

Kanya Bennett, Congress: Enjoy Your Recess, But Here are Six Police Reform Bills You Must Pass in September, ACLU (July 14, 2016), https://www.aclu.org/blog/washington-markup/congress-enjoy-your-recess-here-are-six-police-reform-bills-you-must-pass.

H.R. 306 – National Statistics on Deadly Force Transparency Act of 2015 (Jan. 13, 2015), https://www.congress.gov/bill/114th-congress/house-bill/306.

H.R. 1102 – Police Accountability Act of 2015 (Feb. 26, 2015), https://www.congress.gov/bill/114th-congress/house-bill/1102.

H.R. 1232 – Stop Militarizing Law Enforcement Act (Mar. 4, 2015), https://www.congress.gov/bill/114th-congress/house-bill/1232.

H.R. 1680 – Police CAMERA Act (Mar. 26, 2015), https://www.congress.gov/bill/114th-congress/house-bill/1680.

H.R. 1933 – End Racial Profiling Act of 2015 (Apr. 22, 2015), https://www.congress.gov/bill/114th-congress/house-bill/1933.

H.R. 2052 – Excessive Use of Force Prevention Act of 2015 (Apr. 28, 2015), https://www.congress.gov/bill/114th-congress/house-bill/2052.

H.R. 3481 – PRIDE Act (Sept. 10, 2015), https://www.congress.gov/bill/114th-congress/house-bill/3481.

H.R. 5221 – Preventing Tragedies Between Police and Communities Act of 2016 (May 12, 2016), https://www.congress.gov/bill/114th-congress/house-bill/5221/text.

H.R. 5283 – Deterring Undue Enforcement by Protecting Rights of Citizens from Excessive Searches and Seizures Act of 2016 (May 19, 2016), https://www.congress.gov/bill/114th-congress/house-bill/5283/text.

Gabrielle Levy, Congress Left Behind in Rush for Police Reform, U.S. News & World Report (May 5,2015), https://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2015/05/05/congress-left-behind-in-rush-for-police-reform.

Wesley Lowery, Proposal to Congress Would Require Police to get De-Escalation Training, Create a National Use of Force Standard, The Washington Post (May 12, 2016), https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-nation/wp/2016/05/12/proposal-to-congress-would-require-police-to-get-de-escalation-training-create-national-use-of-force-standard/?utm_term=.1e25996eb061.

President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing, Final Report of the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing (2015), https://cops.usdoj.gov/pdf/taskforce/taskforce_finalreport.pdf.

Richard M. Thompson III, Police Use of Force: Rules, Remedies, and Reforms (Oct. 30, 2015), https://fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/R44256.pdf.

S. 2168 – Law Enforcement Trust and Integrity Act of 2015 (Oct. 8, 2015), https://www.congress.gov/bill/114th-congress/senate-bill/2168.