WASHINGTON — U.S. Senator Chris Coons (D-Del.), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, announced that he is an original co-sponsor of the Justice in Policing Act of 2020, legislation introduced today by Senators Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) and members of the Congressional Black Caucus in the House of Representatives.

“Two weeks ago, George Floyd was brutally killed by police in Minneapolis, joining a long line of African Americans who have been unjustly killed, too often at the hands of law enforcement. Thousands of Delawareans of all backgrounds and ages have taken part in protests from Wilmington to Dover, Middletown to Seaford, and millions have protested nationwide demanding justice and real change in our society. We must listen to those voices and take action – that’s why I’m joining this legislation as an original co-sponsor today.  Addressing the long-standing racial injustices in our country will take more than one bill, and we must address much more than just policing, but I believe the Justice in Policing Act of 2020 is an important start to the change I hear Delawareans demanding in historic numbers.

“Policing is mainly a local issue, and much of the change we need to see will come at the state and local level. But there are areas where we can take federal action. This bill includes measures I have already cosponsored to make lynching a federal hate crime and end racial profiling. Additionally, it will enhance the ability of prosecutors to bring federal charges against police officers who criminally violate Americans’ constitutional rights and help the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division investigate systematic police misconduct. The bill will incentivize states to create independent investigative structures for police-involved deaths, ensure decertified officers are not able to change jurisdictions without disclosure of prior misconduct, mandate training on racial bias, and more. 

“The legislative process on making policing reforms is just starting in the Senate.  The bill introduced this morning is an imperfect bill that has a number of provisions that I will work on with the sponsors to focus and improve.  Addressing injustice will take sustained effort at every level of government and society, and in the weeks ahead I will be working on legislation to address job opportunities, housing, youth programs, and access to opportunity. We still have work to do to refine this bill and pass it into law, but the Justice in Policing Act of 2020 is an important signal that we in Congress intend to begin this difficult work now, and it can begin to create the kind of systematic change we need. 

“Today’s introduction is a vital first step to ensuring that the principle of equal justice under the law is realized for all, but it is just the beginning of the legislative process.  I want to continue to hear from a wide range of Delawareans on how they want reform – across many areas – to move forward.  We should also engage the many members of law enforcement who are working to bring positive change to their agencies and communities.  As the co-chair of the Senate Law Enforcement Caucus, I recognize how difficult law enforcement officers’ responsibilities are.  I also know that the vast majority of our law enforcement officers are committed to equal justice for all Americans.  I’ve spoken with many police officers and law enforcement officials who are eager to improve relationships and build trust with the communities they serve while improving accountability for their departments.  This bill will be stronger and more likely to pass if we can garner support from a wide range of Americans, including those in law enforcement.  I look forward to hearing from Delawareans in the days and weeks ahead to ensure we advance legislation that can meet this moment and make a lasting difference.”