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M.O.B.B. United for Social Change, Inc.

A VOICE for Moms of Black sons

M.O.B.B. United for Social Change, Inc. (MUSC) focuses on influencing policy that impacts how Black boys and men are treated and perceived by law enforcement and in society. Our focus covers a variety of areas plagued by racial disparities as it relates to their interaction with law enforcement and persons in authority. From the school‐to‐prison pipeline to the broader criminal justice system, we aim to break down these walls and change the trajectory of racial injustice to ensure that our sons survive and thrive.

MUSC’slegislative platform outlines key policy areasthat we plan to focus on over this year, across allstates.  Additionally, as they are introduced in state assemblies or opportunities arise, our legislative agenda will also include support for or opposition again key legislation and initiatives that are aligned with our mission.

2020 Legislative Platform as it relates to the Justice in Policing Act

Training

De-Escalation ‐ The Justice in Policing Act addresses de-escalation in its section on Police Exercising Absolute Care with Everyone or PEACE. It changes the use of force standard for federal officers from reasonableness to only when necessary to prevent death or serious bodily injury and requires that deadly force be used only as a last resort after employing de-escalation techniques. The Act conditions grants to state and local agencies on establishment of the same use of force standard.

De-escalation is essential to reducing police involved shooting and incidents involving excessive use of force by equipping police officers with options and strategies to more effectively deal with members of the public who are in mental and emotional distress; and equip officers to discern when to appropriately use lethal versus non-lethal methods to protect themselves.

MUSC has been advocating for and supports adoption of these requirements.

Institutional Racism/Racial Bias ‐  The goal of these trainings is to make police officers aware of their automatic, conscious and unconscious stereotypes that allow racism to perpetrate within the institution of policing, such as the stereotype that all young Black men are criminals. The Justice in Policing Act calls for prohibiting federal, state, and local law enforcement from racial, religious and discriminatory profiling and create a cause of action for declaratory or injunctive relief. To achieve compliance, law enforcement would be required to collect data and submit to the DOJ in a standardized format and the Act would condition federal funding on adoption of policies to combat discriminatory profiling and establishment of best practices to discourage profiling. Training would be established at the federal level and state and local funding would be conditioned on establishment of training.

MUSC supports these measures but would like the training to be standardized across state and local agencies.

Policy

Use of Force ‐ Coupled with de-escalation training, policies around use of force are crucial to decrease the numbers of death in custody. In the case of some of the most high-profile deaths in custody is the use of chokeholds. The Justice in Policing Act would ban holds that compress the carotid artery at the federal level and condition funding to state and local agencies on banning the holds. The Act looks at a continuum that would require that deadly force would be used only as a last resort and changes the justification form whether the force was “reasonable” to whether the force was “necessary” for federal agencies and again uses the power of federal grants to establish the same standard for state and local agencies. It also bans federal no knock warrants for drug cases, essentially victimless crimes. The Act would also require that officers intervene and stop excessive use of force by other officers. One other important aspect of the Justice in Policing Act is limiting the transfer of military weapons to local police.

MUSC supports all of these measures along with the inclusion of two components specifically called out I the 8 Can’t Wait campaign – requiring warning before shooting and a ban on shooting at moving vehicles.

Accountability and Oversight

Body and Dash Cams ‐ If adopted the Justice in Policing Act 2020, would require federal uniformed officers to wear body cameras and use dashboard cams on all marked vehicles. It will require state and local law enforcement to use existing federal funds to ensure the use of police body cameras. MUSC sees this as only part of the equation. Access to camera footage is covered by laws that vary by state and municipality.

MUSC is advocating for uniform policies to access body camera footage for all law enforcement entities. These policies would address storage of the footage, privacy issues and means of requesting access to the footage.

Comprehensive Reporting ‐ The Justice in Policing Act would require that states report to the Justice Department any incident where use of force is used. Information collected must include national origin, sex, race, ethnicity, age, disability, English language proficiency and housing status as well as the reason force was used. At the federal level, the Attorney General would be mandated to collect data on investigatory actions and detentions, racial distribution of drug charges, use of deadly force and traffic and pedestrian stops and detentions. MUSC supports this along with the call from 8 Can’t Wait to require officers in all state and local agencies to report any time they point a firearm at someone or when they threaten or use force against civilians.

The second and very important component of comprehensive reporting in the federal act is establishment of a National Police Misconduct Registry. The registry would include all misconduct complaints (pending, sustained and exonerated), discipline records, termination records and records of certification. Any office hired would have to be certified within the state they are hired into.

MUSC is in full support of these reporting requirements which would serve to root out department bias to combat racial profiling and would prevent problematic officers being hired by another agency without any accountability.

Independent Investigations ‐ The Justice in Policing Act would create a grant program for state attorneys’ general to create an independent investigation process for law enforcement misconduct or excessive use of force and gives the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division subpoena power. Additionally, the Act establishes a DOJ task force to coordinate the investigation, prosecution and enforcement efforts of federal, state and local governments in cases related to law enforcement misconduct.

Accountability ‐ The Act makes it easier to prosecute offending officers by changing the standard of “willful” intention to “knowingly or with reckless disregard” and further defines “death resulting” as any act that was a “substantial factor contributing to the death”. It also enables individuals to recover damages in civil court when officers violate their constitutional rights by eliminating qualified immunity for law enforcement.

Taken together, the changes in investigations and accountability represent a major shift in the ability to prosecute police misconduct and overuse of force. These new potential policies would address the concern of MUSC that even when officers are charged in the deaths of civilians in custody, they are seldom successfully prosecuted.

Summary

Overall the Justice in Policing Act addresses most of the policies that MUSC has been advocating for since its inception. The Act would establish national standards for training and operation of police departments that would be mandated at the federal level and uses the power of funding to encourage adoption of the same standards at the state and local level. It addresses the systematic racism and bias that affects how our Black boys and men are treated by law enforcement and puts in place substantive measures for better data collection and clearer guidelines for effective prosecution. The one major area that is not addressed in the current version of the Act is crisis intervention. The safety of both law enforcement officers and citizens is compromised when police respond to crises involving people with significant mental health issues. Outcomes are better when responding officers are fully trained in the Memphis method/Crisis Intervention Training and there is a system of community support to redirect individuals from the judicial system to the health care system.

M.O.B.B. United for Social Change, Inc. is the sister organization and advocacy arm of Moms of Black Boys United, Inc. It is a nationwide coalition of moms who are dedicated to making the world a safer place for Black boys and men by eradicating harassment, brutality, and unjustified use of deadly force by law enforcement against our sons.

For more information or to become an advocate, visit www.mobbunited.org or email policy@mobbunited.org

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M.O.B.B. United aims to provide information and support for moms of Black sons while promoting positive images of Black boys and men. Our goal is to influence policy impacting how Black boys and men are treated by law enforcement and society.

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