Attorney General Ford Applauds Congressional Passage of the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2020

June 30, 2020

 Urges Senate to Pass Measure to Give State AGs Authority to Investigate Unconstitutional Policing

Carson City, NV Nevada Attorney General Aaron D. Ford applauds the U.S. House of Representatives for its passage of police reform legislation and urges the U.S. Senate to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2020. If passed, the Act will give state attorneys general clear statutory authority to investigate patterns or practices of unconstitutional policing.

The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2020, or H.R. 7120, would give state attorneys general the authority to investigate and address patterns or practices of unconstitutional policing, as well as to acquire data about use of excessive force by officers. Earlier this month, AG Ford and a coalition of attorneys general in submitted a letter to Congressional leadership arguing that attorneys general should have authority to investigate and resolve patterns or practices of unconstitutional policing, particularly in the event that the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) fails to use its authority to act.

The recent killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor have left millions of Americans saddened, outraged, and vulnerable, including those of us in law enforcement,” said AG Ford. “I commend the House of Representatives for passing this police-reform legislation, and I hope the Senate will do the same to better enable my Office to adhere to its creed that Our Job is Justice.”

In addition to allowing state attorneys general to conduct pattern-or-practice investigations, the bill would give state attorneys general authority to issue subpoenas as part of pattern-or-practice investigations, and, when necessary, take action in federal district court. The measure also authorizes appropriations of up to $100 million for a federal grant program to help fund state attorneys general’s pattern-or-practice investigations during fiscal years 2021 to 2023.

AG Ford is calling for the Senate to pass the legislation immediately, as the DOJ has largely refused to address the pervasive problem of police misconduct and left communities without critical civil rights protections. In his June 4th letter to Congressional leaders, AG Ford highlighted the dramatic decrease in pattern-or-practice investigations initiated by the DOJ since 2017. The attorneys general stated that the DOJ initiated 69 pattern-or-practice investigations between 1994 and 2017, which resulted in 40 court-enforceable consent decrees. Since January 2017, the DOJ has initiated zero pattern-or-practice investigations into police conduct and has not entered any consent decrees.

H.R. 7120 would also allow state attorneys general 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 also help identify at-risk law enforcement agencies before a devastating incident occurs. For example, the former Minneapolis police officer accused of killing 46-year-old George Floyd on May 25 had 18 prior complaints filed against him with the Minneapolis Police Department’s Internal Affairs.

The bill was co-sponsored by Representatives Horsford (NV-04), Lee (NV-03) and Titus (NV-01).

In addition to Nevada, attorneys general from the following states also applaud the Policing Act of 2020: California, Colorado, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and Virginia.