In full transparency, the following is a press release from the Massachusetts Attorney General’s office submitted to SOURCE media.
BOSTON – Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey today, April 7, joined a coalition of 11 attorneys general in urging the U.S. Senate to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2021, which will reform law enforcement agencies nationwide and give state attorneys general clear statutory authority to investigate patterns or practices of unconstitutional policing.
The coalition issued a letter today to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell calling on the Senate to pass H.R. 1280, the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2021.
The legislation requires law enforcement agencies throughout the country to enact reforms and gives state attorneys general authority to investigate and address patterns or practices of unconstitutional policing, as well as to acquire data about use of excessive force by officers.
“In the name of George Floyd and Black people across this country, we need to give states the same tools as the federal government to better ensure a justice system that treats everyone equally,” said Healey. “I urge the Senate to pass this critical legislation that will help us address systemic problems and ensure accountability.”
The coalition is calling on the Senate to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2021 as the trial proceeds of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, who is accused of the May 25, 2020 murder of George Floyd.
The legislation is aimed at improving police accountability, transparency in policing practices, and police training and policies. As a result of discussions Attorney General Healey previously participated in with Congressional leadership, the measure was amended to give state attorneys general authority to conduct pattern-or-practice investigations.
The legislation gives state attorneys general authority to issue subpoenas as part of pattern-or-practice investigations and, when necessary, take action in federal district court. The legislation also authorizes appropriations of up to $100 million for a federal grant program to help state attorneys general fund pattern-or-practice investigations during fiscal years 2022 to 2024.
In addition to enabling attorneys general to conduct pattern-or-practice investigations, H.R. 1280 would allow them to acquire data about the use of excessive force by law enforcement officers. Such data would be especially important when identifying law enforcement agencies that have above-average rates of excessive force complaints, which can help identify at-risk law enforcement agencies before a devastating incident occurs. For example, Chauvin had 18 prior complaints filed against him with the Minneapolis Police Department’s Internal Affairs.
The letter joined by AG Healey is led by Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul and New York Attorney General Letitia James and joined by the attorneys general of the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Maryland, Minnesota, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, and Virginia.