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RELEASE: House Judiciary Committee to Hold Hearing on the Khanna, Clay PEACE Act

June 9, 2020
Press Release

Washington, D.C. – On Wednesday, June 10, 2020 at 10:00 a.m. ET, the House Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing to examine the crisis of racial profiling, police brutality and lost trust between police departments and the communities they serve. The hearing will stream live here. The Police Exercising Absolute Care for Everyone, or PEACE Act (HR 4359) will be included in this historic hearing as a component of the Justice in Policing Act, introduced by Congressional Black Caucus Chairwoman Karen Bass, Senators Booker and Harris, and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler.

Reps. Khanna (CA-17) and Clay (MO-1) introduced the PEACE Act in the House in August 2019, and Sen. Harris (D-CA) intends to introduce a companion in the Senate in the coming days.  

“Black and brown people are entitled to the same justice and safety as everyone else in this country,” said Rep. Ro Khanna. “Police officers are tasked with preventing, not inciting, violence in our communities. The PEACE Act is an essential step toward building a culture of community safety that prioritizes de-escalation and communication over lethal tactics. Deadly force should never be the first resort for someone overseeing public safety. Grateful for the support from Chairwoman Karen Bass and Chairman Nadler, and to Senator Harris for introducing the PEACE Act in the Senate. I look forward to working with Rep. Clay, the Congressional Black Caucus, Chairman Nadler, and House Leadership to advance the PEACE Act and other meaningful police reforms to the floor.”   

“Once again, our country has been forced to confront the tragic and horrific killing of a Black American at the hands of law enforcement,” said Sen. Kamala Harris. “George Floyd’s murder is not an isolated incident, but the result of systemic racism and racial bias that has spanned our country’s history. We are in a moment of reckoning on the issue of policing and use of force, and we are in dire need of reform. Thanks to the leadership of California Assemblymembers Shirley Weber and Kevin McCarthy, California passed one of the strongest use of force laws in the country. And today, I am proud to partner with Representatives Ro Khanna and Lacy Clay on this critical legislation to finally raise the use of force standard for federal officers across the nation.”

California police departments have some of the highest rates of killings in the nation, but are rarely held accountable for their officers’ actions. Between 2016 and 2017, half of the people killed or seriously injured by police in California were unarmed. AB 392, the “California Act to Save Lives,” directs police officers to use deadly force only when necessary and constituted the first change to California’s police laws in more than a century. 

However, AB 392 fails to explicitly restrict circumstances in which deadly force can be used, enabling California’s police officers to continue to be shielded from accountability while policing our communities with deadly force. 

The PEACE Act builds on AB 392 by banning deadly force unless three conditions are met: 1) to prevent imminent and serious injury or death to the officer or another person 2) the use of such force won’t create substantial risk of injury to a third person 3) reasonable alternatives have been exhausted. The PEACE Act would also direct the US Attorney General to limit specific types of federal funding for states and/or jurisdictions whose use of force standard is not consistent with the standards required in the bill. 

The PEACE Act: 

  • Prohibits less lethal force from being used “unless necessary and proportional in order to effectuate an arrest of a person who the officer has probable cause to believe has committed a criminal offense, and only after exhausting reasonable alternatives.” 
  • Builds on AB 392, by further conditioning deadly force be “necessary, as a last resort, to prevent imminent and serious bodily injury or death to the officer or another person, the use of such force creates no substantial risk of injury to a third person, and reasonable alternatives to the use of such force have been exhausted.” 
  • Requires officers give a verbal warning and identify themselves, when feasible requesting that person surrender and notifying the person that force will be used if person resists or flees
  • Names choke holds, and multiple discharges of electronic control weapons as techniques and tools that create a substantial risk of death or serious bodily injury and fall under the definition of ‘deadly force’;
  • Includes a provision to prevent an officer’s gross negligence, from being used as a justification for defense, leading up to and at the time of the use of force, that may contribute to the necessity of the use of such force.

Endorsing Organizations include: ACLU, Amnesty International USA, Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and California groups including CA Association of Student Councils, CA Families United 4 Justice, CA Public Defenders Association, Californians for Justice, Los Angeles Black Worker Center, National Council of Jewish Women California, PICO California, Silicon Valley DeBug.

The full bill text can be found here

 

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About the Office

Congressman Khanna represents the 17th District of California, which covers communities in Silicon Valley. Visit his website at khanna.house.gov. Follow him on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter @RepRoKhanna.