Rep. Johnson Re-Introduces Criminal Justice Reform Legislative Package to Hold Police Accountable and Improve the Grand Jury Process
Congressman Hank Johnson (GA-04) reintroduced a spate of criminal justice reform bills on Thursday aimed at increasing law enforcement accountability to the public and restoring trust in the justice system.
By re-introducing The Police Accountability Act, The Grand Jury Reform Act and The Cooling Off Period Elimination Act, Rep. Johnson aims to remove biases within the system that prevent equal justice under the law.
The Police Accountability Act would give the Department of Justice (DOJ) jurisdiction to bring charges against an officer if a state fails to do so, when a civilian is wrongfully killed by the officer in the line of duty. Currently, the DOJ can only pursue a criminal civil rights investigation into an officer, which is a much higher bar.
The Grand Jury Reform Act would require the appointment of a special prosecutor to investigate cases where law enforcement officers have wrongfully killed an individual in the line of duty. The prosecutor would then present the results to a judge in a probable cause hearing that is open and transparent to the public.
The Cooling Off Period Elimination Act would eliminate so-called “cooling-off periods” for police officers charged with misconduct. The bill seeks a partial rollback of controversial Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights (LEOBR), which extends to police officers extra-constitutional privileges and protections that are otherwise unavailable to non-law enforcement.
“There is no silver bullet to fix our broken criminal justice system,” said Rep. Johnson. “Taken together, these three bills would make critical steps to ensure a more thorough review of cases involving law enforcement officers, keep bad officers off the streets and begin the necessary healing process to regain the trust and respect between communities and the police. I understand law enforcement officers have difficult jobs – and as a former magistrate judge I have great respect for all our law enforcement officials – but law enforcement officers are not above the law and should be held accountable like anyone else.”