Local and National Bills Aimed at Police Reforms Move Forward
The Hawaii Legislature passed in conference committee House Bill 285 HD1 SD2 CD1, a measure that requires the disclosure of the identity of officers who are suspended or discharged for misconduct in a report to the Legislature, removes the exemption for police from disclosure under Hawaii’s Uniform Information Practices Act (UIPA), and clarifies additional authorities and powers of the Law Enforcement Standards Board.
The next step for the bill is for it to be voted by the full House and Senate during floor sessions.
“Transparency is critical to maintaining the public trust when you’re in charge of enforcing the law. The Legislature needed to take this step to help support and differentiate the many good officers who keep us safe from those who abuse their position of power,” said Representative Aaron Ling Johanson, Chair of the House Labor and Public Employment Committee.
“The steps this bill takes will increase transparency, build trust in law enforcement, and make it easier for our good officers to do their difficult jobs with the help of a supportive community that trusts them,” said Representative Chris Lee, Chair of the House Judiciary Committee.
The UIPA currently requires the names of all disciplined state and city government employees to be disclosed but exempts county police officers. Amending the UIPA code effectively holds police to the same standard as civil servants.
National Policing Act
Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (HI02) voted to pass H.R.7120, the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act which aims to improve accountability and transparency in policing in the wake of the murder of George Floyd.
The bill was passed in the House by a vote of 236-181 and now heads to the Senate for consideration.
“George Floyd’s murder in broad daylight by a Minneapolis police officer was inexcusable, and has shined a light on the need for real reform,” said Rep. Tulsi Gabbard. “This bill brings us one step closer to necessary law enforcement reforms that better serve our communities. But this is only the beginning.”
Some of the H.R. 7120 features includes:
- Establishing a National Police Misconduct Registry to prevent problematic officers who are fired or leave the agency from moving to another jurisdiction without any accountability.
- Requiring states to report any incident where use of force is used against a civilian or against a law enforcement officer to the Department of Justice.
- Curtailing qualified immunity, which broadly shields police officers from being liable for damages for civil rights violations, opening the door to more criminal prosecution and civil lawsuits.
- Creating law enforcement training programs to develop best practices and requiring the creation of law enforcement accreditation standards recommendations.
- Prohibiting federal, state, and local law enforcement from racial, religious, and discriminatory profiling, and mandating training on racial, religious, and discriminatory profiling.
- Banning chokeholds, carotid holds, and no-knock warrants at the federal level.
- Limiting the transfer of military-grade equipment to state and local law enforcement.
- Mandating the use of dashboard cameras and body cameras for federal offices and requiring state and local law enforcement to use existing federal funds to ensure the use of police body cameras.
- Banning the use of facial recognition technology on police body cameras.
- Prohibiting law enforcement officers from engaging in sexual activity with an individual who is under arrest, in detention, or in custody.