After George Floyd

The Changing Landscape of Policing

Justice in Public Safety Project

Legislative Reforms to Strengthen Accountability, Reduce Over-Reliance on Policing, and Invest in Black and Brown Communities

Advocates, impacted families, and communities across the country rallied behind the need for police accountability legislation such as the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act. The decision by negotiators like Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) that addressing the issue of qualified immunity – a key demand of those seeking to ensure a chance to obtain accountability for unconstitutional policing – was a “red line” he would not cross, doomed the effort to craft a bill that would be responsive to the demand and meet the moment. 

Fortunately, despite the refusal of too many members of Congress to confront the truths of our current system of policing, a number of states and localities have recognized the urgency of this moment and have taken steps to address police violence and egregious misconduct through landmark accountability legislation, and bold, creative interventions to transform public safety.

Advocates around the country, many of whom had been working on policing issues for decades, achieved reforms in the past year that once seemed unthinkable. A wave of policing-related bills and policies were introduced on the local, state, and federal levels. In state legislatures alone, 3,000 policing related bills were introduced in response to the summer of protests. 

This legislative progress is a direct result of the tireless efforts of community members and grassroots activists across the country. Their organizing, united front against racial injustice, and voices calling for police accountability spurred these changes.

The index below is organized by state and city, and covers improvements that: strengthen accountability for law enforcement, and work to create fundamental changes to public safety systems.* 

Police Accountability Bills Enacted by States and Cities

Arizona

Data and Transparency
Arizona passed a bill on April 28, 2021, that requires departments to provide use of force data to the Arizona Criminal Justice Commission. The Commission will then submit and publish an annual report on use of force incidents and establish procedures for governing the collections and reporting incidents.

Arkansas

Data and Transparency
Under a bill passed on March 1, 2021, law enforcement agencies are required to state in separation notices if the officer was terminated or resigned because of an excessive use of force, dishonesty or untruthfulness.

California

Use of Force
California
passed a bill on September 20, 2020, that prohibits the use of carotid restraints or chokeholds.

Investigations
Another bill passed on September 20, 2020, requires a state prosecutor to investigate incidents where an unarmed civilian is shot and killed by an officer, and bring charges against the officer if the investigation’s conclusion warrants it. The investigation’s reports must be published on a public internet website.

California continues to build on progress to enact bills that increase accountability for excessive and unlawful policing. On September 30, 2021, Governor Newsom signed a slate of meaningful bills into law  

Decertification
In September 2021 the state enacted the SB 2, Kenneth Ross Jr. Police Decertification Act of 2021. The law creates a statewide decertification process. Additionally, the law removes some immunity for law enforcement officers and their employers in civil right lawsuits under the states’ civil rights law.

Transparency
On the same day SB 16 was signed into law, which would permit the release of sustained findings involving unreasonable or excessive force and sustained finding by a law enforcement agency or oversight body that a peace officer or corrections officer engaged in conduct involving prejudice or discrimination on the basis of specific protected classes. Additionally, the bill would permit the release  ofsustained findings involving an officer’s failure to intervene against another officer’s use of unreasonable or excessive force, unlawful arrests and searches that would be subject to disclosure.

Protest and Reporting
California enacted AB 48 to place prohibitions on the use of kinetic energy projectiles most commonly seen as rubber or plastic bullets and the use of chemical agents including tear gas, pepper balls, and pepper spray. The bill also required law enforcement agencies to report monthly to the state’s Department of Justice, the shooting of a person by a police officer and the use of force by a police officer against a person that results in serious bodily injury or death.

Addressing Law Enforcement Gangs
AB 958 requires law enforcement agencies to have a policy prohibiting participation in law enforcement gangs, including that such participation is grounds for termination. The law defines law enforcement gangs as a group people within a law enforcement agency who identify themselves with a name or symbol, who engage in on-duty behavior including but not limited to actions such as harassment or discrimination against members of the public or other officers, falsifying police reports, theft, the persistent practice of unlawful detention, destroying evidence, the known use of unjustified force, targeting members of the public based solely on protected characteristics and intentionally violates the law.

Colorado

Use of Force
Colorado passed a bill on June 19, 2020, that prohibits the use of chokeholds and deployment of tear gas in protests without announcing its use beforehand and permitting people to disperse.

Qualified Immunity
Colorado passed a bill on June 19, 2020, that prohibits the defense of qualified immunity in cases where the deprivation of civil rights is alleged.

Connecticut

Use of Force
Connecticut passed a bill on July 31, 2020, requiring that all officers intervene when they witness excessive, unreasonable, or illegal use of force.

Another bill passed on March 31, 2021, alters the use of deadly force standard to require that officers “reasonably determine . . . that there are no available reasonable alternatives” to the use of deadly force, that the force creates no “unreasonable” risk of injury to a third party. Deadly force may only be used to prevent the escape of a person if the person “poses a significant threat of death or serious physical injury to others.”

Investigations
The bill passed on July 31, 2020, requires the Inspector General (IG) to investigate and determine whether the officer’s use of deadly force was justified. The IG must investigate instances when a person dies in police custody. Once an investigation is completed, the IG provides the report to the Chief State’s Attorney. The IG should prosecute the officer if the report concludes the use of force was not justified or if there was a failure to intervene by another officer.

Delaware

Use of Force
Delaware passed a bill on August 13, 2020, that criminalizes officers’ use of a chokehold, except where its use is reasonably necessary to protect life.

Transparency/Investigation
Delaware’s Division of Civil Rights and Public Trust already investigates all use of deadly force incidents by law enforcement. In 2021 Delaware enacted  SB 148 to expand this investigatory authority to also include use of force incidents by law enforcement that result in serious physical injury. The law also now required the race of the individual and officer to be chronicled in public reports and if race was determined to be a relevant or motivating factor.

Illinois

Illinois passed a bill on February 22, 2021, that covers a range of issue areas including use of force, policing alternatives, oversight, data and transparency, and employment and labor.

Use of Force
The bill prohibits all officers’ use of a chokehold, except where use of deadly force is justified. The bill also requires officers to intervene when they witness excessive use of force and to render medical aid when necessary.

Data and Transparency
Law enforcement agencies will be required to participate in the FBI’s use of force database and report incidents accordingly. They must report all instances when an officer uses force and fires their weapon at another person or in their direction. The bill also requires that law enforcement agencies create and maintain a database of officers who are disciplined for misconduct.

Employment and Labor
Officers under investigation will no longer have the right to be informed of the names of the complainants and the name, rank, and unit or command of the officer in charge of the investigation.

Maine

Oversight
In 2021 Maine enacted H.P. 1095 to require the Attorney General to complete an investigation into use of deadly force incidents by law enforcement, within 180 days of receiving notice of the incident.

Maryland

On April 7 2021, Maryland passed a landmark police reform bill that addresses a broad scope of misconduct issues and establishes police accountability measures. The bill’s passage made Maryland the first state in the nation to repeal its Law Enforcement Officers' Bill of Rights that for decades prevented officers from being held accountable.

Use of Force
Maryland established new use of force standards for law enforcement agencies. Force may only be used to “prevent an imminent threat of physical injury” or to “effectuate a legitimate law enforcement objective.” Officers are required to de-escalate, intervene to prevent illegal use of force by another officer, and render aid when needed. Officers can be convicted and sentenced to up to 10 years in prison if they violate the use of force standards.

Investigations
The bill provides that the Attorney General investigate officer uses of deadly force when someone is killed as a result of that force.

Maryland repealed its Law Enforcement Officers' Bill of Rights and replaced it with a new disciplinary process that preempts any collective bargaining agreement.

Data and Transparency
The bill allows that certain disciplinary records are made accessible to the public via a Public Information Act Request.

Data Collection
In 2021 HB 1248 requires each law enforcement agency in Maryland to report each use of force incident that results in a monetary settlement or judgment against a law enforcement officer to the Governor’s office of Crime Prevention, Youth, and Victims Services, which is meant to compile an annual report and post on a public website.

Massachusetts

Use of Force
Massachusetts passed a bill on December 31, 2020, that prohibits officers’ use of a chokehold and the firing of their weapon at a fleeing vehicle, unless necessary to prevent imminent harm. The bill establishes a use of force standard that force is reasonable only when necessary to arrest a person, prevent their escape, or prevent imminent harm, and that the amount of force is proportionate to the threat or harm. Officers are also required to to attempt to de-escalate before using force.

Nevada

Use of Force
Nevada passed a bill on August 7, 2020, that prohibits officers’ use of a chokehold and requires officers to provide medical aid to a person injured by officers. The bill also requires officers to intervene and report the incident to their supervisor when they witness the use of force that is not justified.

Oversight
The bill passed August 7, 2020, prohibits officers from interfering with bystanders who are recording the officers.

Use of Force
S. 212, enacted in June of 2021 would amend the state’s use of force by law enforcement statute to direct law enforcement officers to use alternatives to force wherever possible. It also includes a directive that use of force be balanced against the level of resistance exhibited, a rare element found in use of force by law enforcement statutes across the U.S. The law also directs each law enforcement agency to report statistics relating to use of force incidents that include the total number of use of force complaints and the number of sustained complaints against peace officers. This information will be publicly available annually and reported to the Central Repository monthly.

North Carolina

Duty to intervene
In 2021 North Carolina enacted HB 536 to require on duty law enforcement officers to intervene if they observe another officer’s potentially excessive use force against another person, to intervene if safe, or to report the incident within 72 hours to a superior within the law enforcement agency.

Oregon

Use of Force
Oregon passed two bills to address police use of force on June 30, 2020.

The first bill establishes that a chokehold can only be used in a situation where the use of deadly force is justified. The use of a chokehold in any other circumstance is not justified.

The second bill requires officers to intervene to prevent or stop misconduct by other officers. Officers are required to report that misconduct.

Another bill passed on September 1, 2020, establishes a new use of force standard. Force may be used “only when it is objectively reasonable,” if “the person poses an imminent threat of physical injury,” if force is necessary to “make a lawful arrest,” or to “prevent . . . escape.” It also requires officers to de-escalate, wait, or use other available resources before using force.

Military Equipment
Oregon enacted H 2481 in June of 2021 which prohibits the receipt of certain military equipment by law enforcement via the federal government’s military surplus program. Additionally, the law prohibits the use of federal funds to purchase property from this surplus program and requires local law enforcement agencies that seek to receive military property not banned by the law, to obtain written approval from the governing body of the municipality or tribal land.

Use of crowd control agents
H 2928 limits the use of chemical incapacitants, kinetic impact projectiles like rubber or plastic bullets, and sound devices. Oregon enacted this law in July of 2021

Use of force reporting
In July of 2021 Oregon enacted H 2932 which directs law enforcement units to participate in the FBI National Use-of-Force data collection.

Searches and Stops
In 2022 enacted S 1510 that amends an Oregon law, by requiring a law enforcement officer to inform an individual they have a right to refuse a request to search. An officer who obtains consent to search must ensure there is proof of informed and voluntary consent in writing, video, or an audio recording. Further, the law prohibits a law enforcement officer from initiating vehicles stops based solely on a singular headlight, taillight, brake light, or license plate light that is out of compliance.

Utah

Use of Force
Utah passed a bill on June 25, 2020, that prohibits an officers’ use of chokeholds.

A bill passed on March 16, 2021, requires law enforcement agencies to report when an officer points their firearm at another individual.

Vermont

Use of Force
Vermont passed a bill on July 13, 2020, that prohibits officers from using chokeholds.

Another bill passed on October 7, 2020, provides that officers are justified in using force only when objectively reasonable, necessary, and proportional to effect an arrest, prevent escape, or overcome resistance.

Virginia

Use of Force
Virginia passed a bill on October 28, 2020, that prohibits officers’ use of neck restraints, the firing of their weapons at a moving vehicle, and use of kinetic impact munitions unless necessary to protect from serious bodily injury or death. It also prohibits law enforcement agencies from acquiring military equipment.

Another bill passed the same day requires officers to intervene when they witness another officer use excessive force and establishes criminal penalties for officers who fail to intervene.

Oversight
Virginia passed a bill on October 21, 2020, that permits the Attorney General to investigate law enforcement agencies for a pattern or practice that deprives people of the rights, privileges, or immunities protected by U.S. and state laws. Additionally, another bill passed on October 28, 2020, permits local governing bodies to create law enforcement civilian oversight bodies.

Wisconsin

Chokeholds
In 2021 Wisconsin amended a law by enacting S 121 that includes a provision that prohibits the use of chokeholds by law enforcement officers in policy or standards except in life-threatening situations or in self-defense.   

 

Atlanta, Georgia

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance-Bottoms issued an order that requires Atlanta Police Department officers to intervene if another officer uses excessive force or unreasonable deadly force. Officers are prohibited from using deadly force if a suspect is in a moving vehicle. Officers are also required to use de-escalation techniques to gain compliance.

Mayor Lance-Bottoms issued another order requiring officers to report all uses of deadly force to the Citizens Review Board.

Austin, Texas

The Austin City Council unanimously approved a series of police reforms, including a ban on the use of "less lethal" munitions during protests, and restrictions on the use of deadly force.

Charlotte, North Carolina

The Charlotte City Council passed legislation banning the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department from funding new or existing chemical agents used in crowd control and dispersal, such as tear gas.

Colombus, Ohio

The Columbus Ohio City Council passed legislation restricting no-knock search warrants, creating a list of banned military-type equipment, and prohibiting police officers from affiliating with known hate groups.

Denver, Colorado

The Denver Police Department banned the use of chokeholds without exception and required SWAT teams to activate body cameras during tactical operations. The department also established new reporting requirements for whenever a police officer points a gun at a person.

King County, Washington

King County, Washington, passed charter amendments that authorize the Office of Law Enforcement Oversight to subpoena witnesses, documents, and other evidence in its investigations of law enforcement personnel. The amendments also require investigations into all police-related deaths, and that decedents' families are provided public attorneys to represent them in the investigations.

Los Angeles, California

The Los Angeles City Council passed a number of measures directing the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) to compile a report within 60 days that includes an overview of the LAPD Special Orders related to the use of force, crowd control and how the LAPD will investigate allegations of misconduct resulting from the LAPD’s response to recent protests, and what disciplinary actions will be imposed on any officers found to have used excessive force against protesters or otherwise violated LAPD policies.

Louisville, Kentucky

The Louisville Metro Council unanimously passed Breonna's Law to ban the use of no-knock warrants and require police to turn their body cameras on before carrying out a search.

Minneapolis, Minnesota

Minneapolis City Council approved an agreement banning police officers from using chokeholds and neck restraints and requiring officers to intervene when other officers use excessive force.

Minneapolis limited police traffic stops for minor violations.

New Orleans, Lousiana

The New Orleans City Council passed an ordinance prohibiting the New Orleans Police Department “or any other law enforcement officer” operating within city limits from using chemical agents like tear gas on citizens except in certain extreme circumstances like hostage situations.

Nevada

Use of Force
Nevada passed a bill on August 7, 2020, that prohibits officers’ use of a chokehold and requires officers to provide medical aid to a person injured by officers. The bill also requires officers to intervene and report the incident to their supervisor when they witness the use of force that is not justified.

Oversight
The bill passed August 7, 2020, prohibits officers from interfering with bystanders who are recording the officers.

Use of Force
S. 212, enacted in June of 2021 would amend the state’s use of force by law enforcement statute to direct law enforcement officers to use alternatives to force wherever possible. It also includes a directive that use of force be balanced against the level of resistance exhibited, a rare element found in use of force by law enforcement statutes across the U.S. The law also directs each law enforcement agency to report statistics relating to use of force incidents that include the total number of use of force complaints and the number of sustained complaints against peace officers. This information will be publicly available annually and reported to the Central Repository monthly.

New York City, New York

The New York City Council passed a number of use of force measures that include prohibiting police from sitting, kneeling or standing on a suspect's chest or back. The New York Police Department (NYPD) is also required to revise its disciplinary matrix and incorporate community and council comments.

The Council passed a number of measures that require NYPD to report on its surveillance of residents, show badge numbers, and publicly report on all vehicle stops (including stops of bikes, cars, taxis, etc.).

New York City became the first city to place limits on qualified immunity. The Council passed a law that gives residents the right to bring civil action against an officer for an unreasonable search and seizure and use of excessive force and removes qualified immunity as a defense for police in these cases. The NYPD must publicly report certain information about the civil actions.

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

The Philadelphia City Council passed a bill prohibiting officers from using chokeholds, hogtying; sitting, kneeling or standing on someone’s head, face or neck; and sitting, kneeling or standing on someone’s chest or back.

San Diego, California

The San Diego Police Department banned carotid chokeholds.

San Diego removed the mandatory police staffing level from the city's charter. The city also created a Sheriff's Department Oversight Board and a Sheriff's Department Office of Inspector General.

San Diego passed Measure B, which will establish an independent commission to oversee the San Diego Police Department.

San Francisco, California

San Francisco’s mayor issued a policing reform plan that requires police to stop responding to non-criminal activities such as neighbor disputes, reports on homeless people, and school discipline interventions. Under the proposal, police will be replaced with trained and non-armed professionals. The city also reduced the police department’s budget by $120 million over the next two years.

Seattle, Washington

The Seattle City Council passed legislation to ban the use of chokeholds, including neck and carotid restraints. 

Washington, D.C.

Use of force/ use of military equipment
In 2021 DC enacted a slew of policing reforms in a legislative package that, prohibits the police union from negotiating disciplinary matters, prohibits the hiring of officers who have previously been found to have committed serious misconduct, terminated or forced to resign for disciplinary reasons, or who have resigned to avoid disciplinary action. It also prohibits the use of neck restraints, considered by the law to be deadly force, and limits  the purchase and use of certain military equipment.  

Systemic Changes to Public Safety Enacted

Arkansas

Arkansas passed a bill on April 6, 2021, that permits officers to transport a person who is in crisis to a sobering center as an alternative to incarceration.

California

In 2021, California passed Assembly Bill 118 which allocates $250,000 per year to qualified grantees to create and strengthen community-based alternatives to law enforcement with priority to interventions that serve historically marginalized people and communities with where policing disparities exist

Colorado

Colorado passed a bill on June 30, 2020, that expands its pilot program for mental health diversion, permitting more pilot programs be employed throughout the state.

In 2021, Colorado passed House Bill 21-1122 that creates a commission to improve first responder interactions with persons with disabilities

Georgia

In 2022, Georgia passed Senate Bill 403 which requires community service boards to establish co-responder programs to assist law enforcement in responding to behavioral health calls

Illinois

Law enforcement agencies are authorized to partner with health organizations to create “deflection” programs aimed at coordinating appropriate responses to people in crisis and in need of assistance.

Kentucky

In 2021, Kentucky enacted House Bill 44 to train and permit firefighters to operate with crisis intervention teams.

New Hampshire

New Hampshire passed a bill on July 16, 2020, that provides immunity from arrest and prosecution for people under 21 who request medical or emergency treatment related to the consumption of alcohol in good faith and in a timely manner.

Oklahoma

Oklahoma passed a bill on April 23, 2021, to permit law enforcement agencies to create diversion programs for some drug-related offenses. These programs would allow officers to transport a person who is in possession of certain drugs and appears in need of help to drug treatment centers. These programs must be annually approved by the county’s district attorney.

Virginia

Virginia passed a bill on November 5, 2020, that requires each locality to develop comprehensive crisis systems that are composed of a crisis call center, community care and mobile crisis teams, and crisis stabilization centers by December 2021.

Maine

In 2021, Maine enacted House Bill 1093 which requires the state attorney general and all law enforcement agencies to create a homeless crisis protocol that includes access and referral to crisis services, mental health and substance use disorder professionals, emergency and transitional housing, and case management services. Officers are required to ask whether a person they respond to is homeless and initiate the protocol if the person responds in the affirmative.

Maryland

In 2022, Maryland enacted Senate Bill 241 which established 988 as the universal telephone number for national suicide prevention and mental health crisis hotline and provides funding for the delivery of behavioral health crisis response services including, crisis call centers, mobile crisis team services, and crisis stabilization centers.

In 2021, Maryland enacted House Bill 108/Senate Bill 286 which establishes and funds mobile crisis team services statewide that operate on a 24/7 basis to provide assessments, crisis intervention, stabilization, follow-up, and referral to urgent care and arrange appointments.

In 2021, Maryland enacted House Bill 445/Senate Bill 671 which expands the category of misdemeanors under which officers may issue a citation in lieu of an arrest.

Nevada

In 2021, Nevada enacted Assembly Bill 116 which decriminalizes traffic tickets and prevents driver’s license suspensions for minor traffic offenses. Some provisions went into effect in 2021 but many others won’t go into effect until 2022.

In 2021, Nevada enacted Assembly Bill 440 which requires officers to issue a citation in lieu of arrest in certain circumstances.

Oklahoma

In 2021, Oklahoma enacted Senate Bill 87 which permits officers to connect persons in possession of a controlled dangerous substance to services, including drug treatment centers or centers for substance abuse evaluation in lieu of an arrest.

Oregon

In 2022, Oregon enacted House Bill 4045 which provides funding to nonprofit organizations focused on community violence prevention and intervention measures to decrease social pressure to engage in community violence. Services to be funded include substance abuse and alcohol misuse, legal services, educational attainment, conflict resolution, parent education, employment services, youth and gang intervention, housing stability, street outreach and norm change.

In 2021, Oregon enacted House Bill 2416 that expands crisis stabilization services offered throughout the state and funds community health programs to establish and maintain mobile crisis intervention teams.

Utah

In 2021, Utah enacted Senate Bill 155 to establish a 988 hotline to respond to behavioral health calls and fund mobile crisis outreach teams, behavioral health receiving centers, and stabilization services.

Austin, Texas

The Austin City Council unanimously approved cutting the police department’s budget in 2021 and reinvested the funds in supportive housing, mental health response services, violence prevention and other programs.

Brooklyn Center, Minnesota

In May, following the killing of Daunte Wright, the Brooklyn Center City Council approved a new resolution to create new divisions of trained unarmed civilian employees that would respond to minor traffic violations and mental health crises. The resolution would also require police to use more de-escalation measures before deploying deadly force. Though approved by city council, the changes have not yet been implemented due to budget challenges.

Charlotte, North Carolina

The Charlotte City Council established a standing committee that will scrutinize and adjust police spending and policy. A number of reforms were also passed to remove law enforcement from mental health services.

Ithaca, New York

The City of Ithaca’s Common Council unanimously passed a resolution adopting a “Reimagining Public Safety” plan to create a new “Department of Public Safety” to replace the current Ithaca Police Department.

Los Angeles, California

The Los Angeles City Council approved a plan to reduce the Los Angeles Police Department's (LAPD) 2020-21 budget by $150 million, and reinvest $100 million of those dollars into communities of color for youth work programs, local hire efforts, and other social programs.

The Council voted unanimously to have a chief administrator develop an unarmed team to respond to nonviolent 911 calls.

The city passed an ordinance that states that at least 10% of the county's general fund shall be appropriated to community programs and alternatives to incarceration.

Minneapolis, Minnesota

The Minneapolis City Council voted to redirect $8 million of the police budget towards community alternatives. Minneapolis Public Schools and the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board both voted to cut ties with the city's police, resulting in a reduction of over $1 million dollars from the police department’s budget.

Portland, Washington

The Portland Mayor ended the Portland Police Department’s Gun Violence Reduction Team and Transit Division, as both units disproportionately targeted people of color. The units’ $12 million budget will be redirected toward communities of color.

Portland Public Schools cancelled its school resource officers program with the Portland Police Bureau.

Portland passed legislation dissolving the city's current police oversight board and replacing it with a new oversight board composed of diverse community members. Board members may not be employed by law enforcement or have any immediate family members employed by law enforcement. The new board will have the authority to subpoena documents, compel officers under investigation to testify, share investigative findings with the public, and discipline, terminate, and name officers.

San Francisco, California

San Francisco’s mayor issued a policing reform plan that requires police to stop responding to non-criminal activities and calls including neighbor disputes, reports on homeless people, and school discipline interventions. Trained and non-armed professionals will respond to those calls instead of police. The city also reduced the police department’s budget by $120 million over the next two years.

*This list is not exhaustive. The descriptions above are intended to provide an overview of relevant portions of the legislation and are not authoritative, comprehensive, or complete descriptions.
Source: Yalonda M. James/The San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images
Source: Elijah Nouvelage via Getty Images

George Floyd’s brutal killing on May 25, 2020, sparked mass protests and uprisings across the globe that shifted our understanding of the fundamental changes needed to our system of public safety. In the midst of a pandemic, millions of people took to the streets to demand accountability for the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and so many others, and deep, structural changes to the systems that rob the lives of Black people throughout the United States.

Meaningful federal legislation to broadly transform policing should have been swiftly enacted in response. Instead, despite the passage of the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act by the House of Representatives in 2020 and 2021 the bill officially stalled in the Senate. The failure of this legislation to move forward is a failure for our democracy. The people spoke by the millions, and their demand has not been met. At the core of the demand were measures designed to remove barriers to holding law enforcement officers accountable for police brutality.

LDF worked to strengthen accountability for police misconduct at the local, state, and federal levels, engaging in litigation, research, legislative advocacy, and community organizing to support advocates working to transform public safety in their communities:

When the Trump administration created the President’s Commission on Law Enforcement and the Administration of Justice to, in part, promote “public respect for the law and law enforcement,” composed almost entirely of law enforcement, LDF successfully filed suit for violations of the Federal Advisory Committee Act, challenging its legitimacy. (NAACP Legal Defense Fund v. Barr, et al., 2020).

In Louisville, after the Louisville Metro Police Department (LMPD) used militaristic force on peaceful protestors, as they protested against police violence, LDF filed suit to challenge LMPD’s use of force. (Scott v. Louisville/Metro Government, et al.2020)

In Philadelphia, after the Philadelphia Police Department (PPD) used militaristic force on residents in a predominantly Black neighborhood in West Philadelphia, LDF filed suit challenging the PPD’s excessive use of force. (Smith v. City of Philadelphia, et al.2020).

In New York City, after an NYPD officer attacked a protestor, forcibly removing Mr. Smith’s mask – which he was wearing to protect himself and others from COVID-19 – and pepper-sprayed him in the face, LDF sued the City of New York. (Smith v. City of New York, 2020)

In Alamance County, North Carolina, marchers and prospective voters walking from a church to a nearby polling site—among them young children, elderly individuals, and those with disabilities— were repeatedly pepper-sprayed without warning or provocation by police. Some prospective voters were unable to register to vote by the 3 p.m. deadline and therefore could not vote on Election Day. LDF and co-counsel filed a lawsuit against the City of Graham and Alamance County challenging this unwarranted use of force and intimidation of prospective voters.

LDF reviewed over 100 police contracts and released Community Oversight of Police Union Contracts, a resource for advocates to use to push for reforms of police contracts in their communities. This resource contains an overview of provisions of police union contracts that hinder police accountability and transparency, and suggests alternatives.

When grand jurors reviewing Breonna Taylor’s killing publicly disclosed that they were not presented with charges for the officers who killed Ms. Taylor, LDF reviewed investigative documents and the grand jury transcripts. LDF documented its findings in Justice Denied: A Call for a New Grand Jury Investigation into the Killing of Breonna Taylor (2020), a report that identified the bias and deficiencies in the Kentucky Attorney General presentation of evidence. It called for the empanelment of a new grand jury and recommended systemic reforms.

To support advocates working to transform public safety in Tulsa, Oklahoma, LDF released “We Are Not Lesser: An Urgent Call to End Over-Policing of Black Communities and Transform Public Safety a report that outlines the Tulsa Police Department’s disparate policing practices of Tulsa’s Black communities and recommends reforms to end the over-policing of Black communities in the city.

In response to the ceaseless police violence against Black and Brown people, and additional evidence of race discrimination by law enforcement agencies, LDF called on the Department of Justice to stop disbursing federal funds to law enforcement agencies until the department can ensure that agencies that receive federal funds are not engaging in race discrimination, in violation of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act. On September 15, 2021, the Department of Justice published a memo announcing that it was conducting a review of its protocols to improve Title VI enforcement among law enforcement agencies.

In Maryland, LDF successfully worked to improve individual and systemic accountability for law enforcement officers through legislative reforms, including the repeal of Maryland’s Law Enforcement Officer’s Bill of Rights, the creation of a more stringent standard for officers’ uses of force, and a bill allowing public access to officers’ misconduct records. Maryland became the first state in the country repeal its Law Enforcement Bill of Rights, which has long allowed officers to evade accountability.

LDF's Work Supporting Protesters and Calling for Police Accountability

Published Community Oversight of Police Union Contractsa toolkit to be used by the public to push for changes to contracts that will increase accountability and transparency.

Partnered with the ACLU of Florida and the Community Justice Project to file a federal lawsuit challenging Florida's anti-protest law designed to chill residents' First Amendment right to free speech and peaceful assembly.

Released “We Are Not Lesser” An Urgent Call to End Over-Policing and Transform Public Safety a report outlining the Tulsa Police Department’s disparate policing practices of Tulsa’s Black communities and recommending changes to end the over-policing of Black communities in the city.

Reviewed the grand jury transcripts in the Breonna Taylor case and released Justice Denied: A Call for a New Grand Jury Investigation into the Killing of Breonna Taylor, a report that identified the bias and deficiencies in the Kentucky Attorney General presentation of evidence.

Sent a letter to the Department of Justice calling on the Attorney General to suspend federal funding to local law enforcement agencies until the department can ensure that agencies receiving federal funding are not violating the anti-discrimination provisions of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act.

This database tracks the federal funds, grants, and military equipment distributed to local law enforcement agencies. It also provides information about police misconduct complaints filed by individuals, consent decrees, and settlement amounts. When local law enforcement agencies receive federal funding, they are obligated to comply with civil rights laws. You can use the data to advocate for police accountability.
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