Letter: KIFA urges Congress to support Justice in Policing Act reforms

Image of protesters and police
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The Kent Interfaith Alliance for Racial Reconciliation and Justice (KIFA) is a local group of faith leaders formed in 2015 to promote racial justice through education and advocacy. Our membership represents faith communities in the Portage County area and we work collaboratively with other community groups concerned about making this a more just
community.

We urge every member of Congress to take swift action in response to ongoing racist police killings and other violence against Black people across our country. Although much of the work to address police violence needs to be done at the local and state level, federal legislation is also urgently needed.

In early March, the House took a good first step by passing the Justice in Policing Act (H.R. 1280). This bold, transformative legislation will assist law enforcement in demilitarizing policing, changing the culture of policing, raising the standards of the profession and holding officers
accountable. Yet, while we celebrate this victory, the bill’s fate in the Senate is uncertain.

We urge you, Senator Portman, to co-sponsor and vote to pass the meaningful reforms included in the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act (H.R. 1280).

Black communities disproportionately suffer the effects of systemic racism in policing — from overpolicing, police brutality, misconduct and harassment, to the impunity in which officers operate in taking the lives of Black people.

We urge the Senate to now pass the specific, needed reforms included in the Justice in Policing Act. The key provisions would:

  • Ban chokeholds and no-knock warrants. Condition law enforcement funding for state and local governments on banning both chokeholds and no-knock warrants.
  • Limit the transfer of military-grade equipment (1033 Program) to state and local law enforcement.
  • Raise the use of force standard to prevent police officers from using lethal force unless all non-lethal methods have been exhausted.
  • Require the use of de-escalation techniques.
  • Reform qualified immunity, a legal provision which shields law enforcement from certain lawsuits.
  • Create a national registry of police misconduct.
  • Improve the vetting and training of police officers.

Nancy Warlop, Kent Interfaith Alliance for Racial Reconciliation and Justice