Dear Mayor and Council,
To follow up on my earlier email, I am forwarding a proposal for police reform from Bernie Sanders. I would suggest that you broaden the agenda for June 16th to discuss this or other ideas. Based on the local response to the George Floyd killing, I believe our community is ready for such a discussion.
Senator Bernie Sanders 8-Point Plan to End Police Brutality, Protect Communities
"We have got to act boldly to eradicate systemic racism and police violence. I am calling for sweeping policy reforms to protect people—particularly communities of color—who have suffered violence for far too long."
As the nationwide uprising catalyzed by the police killing of George Floyd continues to bring hundreds of thousands of Americans into city streets around the U.S., Sen. Bernie Sanders is urging the Democratic leadership to embrace a slate of specific policy proposals aimed at mitigating the intertwined crises of systemic racism and unaccountable brutality by law enforcement.
"I am calling for sweeping policy reforms to protect people—particularly communities of color—who have suffered violence for far too long," the Vermont senator wrote in a letter (pdf) to Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Wednesday.
Sanders' letter outlines eight policy proposals that the senator says would, if implemented, "contribute greatly to the eradication of police violence in this country."
• Amend federal civil rights laws to allow more effective prosecution of police misconduct by changing the standard from willfulness to recklessness;
• Abolish "qualified immunity," so police officers can be held civilly liable for abuses;
• Prohibit the transfer of offensive military equipment to police departments;
• Strip federal funds from departments that violate civil rights;
• Create a federal model policing program that emphasizes de-escalation, non-lethal force and culturally competent policing in which access to federal funds depends upon the level of reform adopted. As part of this effort to modernize and humanize police departments we need to enhance the recruitment pool by ensuring that the resources are available to pay wages that will attract the top-tier officers we need to do the difficult work of policing;
• Provide funding to states and municipalities to create civilian corps of unarmed first responders to supplement law enforcement, such as social workers, EMTs, and trained mental health professionals, who can handle order maintenance violations, mental health emergencies, and low-level conflicts to aid police officers;
• Require agencies to make records of police misconduct publicly available;
• Require all jurisdictions that receive federal grant funding to establish independent police conduct review boards that are broadly representative of the community and that have the authority to refer deaths that occur at the hands of police or in police custody to federal authorities for investigation. In addition, the boards would be authorized to report to federal authorities other types of abuses by police including patterns of misconduct. This would be supplemental to current federal authority to commence investigations. Clearly we need to enhance federal funding for such investigations.
"We have got to act boldly to eradicate systemic racism and police violence," Sanders tweeted.