The recent killing of innocent individuals by law enforcement officers across the country has sparked a national conversation about policing and racial profiling. Rep. Eshoo believes that we have to undertake a nationwide effort to improve training of law enforcement, which in turn can restore trust among citizens in those that are sworn to protect them.
Over 200 African Americans were killed by law enforcement in 2016 alone and countless more individuals of color are subjected to abuse and profiling. Law enforcement officers place their lives on the line for us every day, but recent events have made clear that the critical trust between law enforcement and citizens has been shaken or shattered in many communities.
The U.S. Department of Justice can and should conduct independent investigations of the killings of innocent individuals at the hands of law enforcement. In addition to independent, after-the-fact investigations and punishment for officers who commit crimes, police forces across the country have to place a higher emphasis on the training of officers to handle hostile situations peacefully and to use force as a last resort.
To this end, Rep. Eshoo is a cosponsor of the Police Training and Independent Review Act, which requires any law enforcement agency that receives federal grant funding to educate its officers on ethics and racial bias, cultural diversity, and police interaction with the disabled, mentally ill, and immigrants. The bill would also require states that accept DOJ grant funding to adopt laws requiring independent investigations and prosecutions of law enforcement officers in cases where an officer used deadly force in the course of carrying out his or her official duties. This implements a key finding of President Obama’s Taskforce on 21st Century Policing, which recommended the appointment of independent prosecutors in cases reviewing police use of force and cases where police use deadly force.