Reforming our justice system

By Sen. Sherrod Brown

People all around our state and our country are calling for meaningful change in our justice system.

This reform starts with holding police accountable: No more chokeholds. No more unchecked police misconduct. No more immunity from prosecution.

That’s why I joined my Senate colleagues in introducing the Justice in Policing Act, a comprehensive package to implement meaningful policing reforms and work to improve police-community relations.

This legislation would ban chokeholds, carotid holds, and no-knock warrants at the federal level, and it would establish a National Police Misconduct Registry, to prevent problematic officers who are fired or leave an agency from moving to another jurisdiction without any accountability.

It would also mandate the use of dashboard cameras and body cameras for federal officers, and require state and local law enforcement to use existing federal funds to do the same.

We need to use federal dollars to improve law enforcement – that means making federal funds conditional on reforming departments. Instead of using federal funds to provide police with excess military equipment, we should support anti-bias training, and prioritize funding for education, housing, and healthcare.

These reforms would make meaningful change — but they are just the start.

Law enforcement officers and reformers agree that we have pushed too many problems onto the criminal justice system – expecting officers to be social workers and crisis responders and family mediators, instead of actually investing in mental health supports and education and other social supports. Policing didn’t create our nation’s institutionalized racism – it’s a product of it and reinforces it.

It’s time to listen to the voices that have been silenced and ignored for too long, and take action to end the systemic racism in our justice system — and in healthcare and housing and education and so much else in our country.

By Sen. Sherrod Brown