Press Release

DPA Urges Congress to Strengthen Police Reform Bill

Congress Must Act Swiftly to Put an End to Police Militarization & the Drug War Structures that Have Enabled it to Thrive

Contact:
Matt Sutton 212-613-8026
msutton@drugpolicy.org

In response to the introduction of the Justice in Policing Act of 2020 by Congressional Black Caucus Chair Karen Bass (D-CA), Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Kamala Harris (D-CA), and House Judiciary Committee Chair Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), a bill calling for law enforcement reform, Maritza Perez, Director of the Office of National Affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA), released the following statement:

“We are grateful for Congressional leadership in introducing legislation that would reform policing in this country and reexamine the kinds of deadly police militarization practices that have stricken our nation and have caused many to question the operation of American democracy. This bill includes much-needed provisions to end racial profiling, ban chokeholds, and create a national database for police misconduct and use-of-force.  

But this bill fails to fully address issues like police militarization and the use of quick-knock warrants, policing practices that are disproportionately used against people of color in drug investigations.  While the bill places restrictions on programs that facilitate the transfer of military equipment to local police departments, it does not outright put an end to such programs. And while this bill prohibits no-knock warrants for drug cases, it does not outlaw quick-knock warrants which can be just as deadly. Moreover, the bill continues to fund police departments and the war on drugs, rather than shift resources to education, housing, harm reduction services, and other infrastructure that strengthens communities and increases public safety.   

This moment requires a bold legislative solution and this bill falls short. Even now, as Congress and communities mobilize to demand justice, the DEA and CBP have been granted more power — which, when used, will ultimately continue to fuel mass incarceration, racial disparities, and other problems exacerbated by the drug war. Against this backdrop, Congress must do more to ensure a standard for justice, policing and safety in America. 

We are calling on Congress to act swiftly on police reform and strengthen this bill — not just for Breonna and George — but for the countless Black, Latinx, and Native American lives lost before them, and the countless others that devastatingly will follow if we don’t begin to act. Our nation needs comprehensive reform that will protect our communities and ensure dignity and respect for Black, Latinx and Native American lives. We look forward to continuing to work with Congress to improve and strengthen the Justice in Policing Act of 2020.”

Criminal Justice Reform