The Biden Administration has endorsed the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2021, a sweeping police reform bill intended to fight “systemic racism” in police departments. H.R. 1280, introduced by California Democratic Rep. Karen Bass, was passed by the House on Wednesday.
The House passed a similar version of this bill last year, however, it stalled in the Senate. The new bill is likely to fail in the Senate as well.
This proposed legislation was named after the black man who died in police custody last May after an officer knelt on his neck for nine minutes. Floyd’s death triggered the deadly riots which spread throughout the U.S. last summer.
Washington lawyer Hans Bader analyzed H.R. 1280 in an article published on legal blog Liberty Unyielding.
Bader believes it “could lead to more racial and sexual profiling, such as gender-based stops of female motorists. … [It] could actually cause systematic racism and sexism.” (emphasis mine)
According to Bader, this bill “encourages police departments to adopt quotas based on gender and race for ‘traffic stops,’ ‘pedestrian stops,’ and ‘interviews.’ The practical effect would be to encourage police departments to stop innocent women, Asians, and whites, just to meet quotas based on gender and race. If police departments don’t meet these quotas, they could be sued by the Justice Department or individuals they stop.”
Sound fair? Moreover:
Section 311 of the Act forbids what it calls ‘racial profiling.’ This is defined to include not just race, but also ‘gender’ in Section 302(a)(6) of the bill. But it defines ‘profiling’ in such a crudely-mechanical way that it actually encourages profiling, rather than outlawing it.
Under the bill, what matters is numbers and racial bean-counting, not actual racism or sexism. ‘Disparate impact’ in police stops or interviews based on race or gender — for example, stopping more men than women, or interviewing more blacks than Asians or whites — is defined as ‘prima facie evidence’ of a ‘violation.’ That means that numbers alone are enough for a judge to find a police department in violation of the Act. Prima facie evidence is a legal term meaning that the person suing has provided enough evidence to prove something, in the absence of proof to the contrary by the entity being sued, which bears the burden of proving itself innocent.”
Bader provides examples in layman’s terms for us non-lawyers. Statistically, men commit more crimes than women. They also speed and violate traffic laws more often.
Asians, on average, commit fewer crimes than whites. Both generally commit fewer crimes than blacks.
Even so, if a police officer stopped more men or more blacks, than women or whites or Asians, they may be found to have violated the terms of this Act.
How many police officers would be found to be in violation if they merely stopped motorists whom they believed were violating the law – speeding, driving recklessly, erratically, etc? Or if they pursued only those individuals they thought had committed a crime?
They would be guilty of sexual profiling and or racial profiling.
In order to be in compliance with this law, an officer would have to stop women at the same rate as men even if they weren’t violating the law and Asians and whites as often as blacks.
Bader cites U.S. v. Armstrong, in which the Supreme Court determined that “crime rates differ by race. That’s why arrest rates differ by race, as a recent federal study of violent crime shows. Yet the bill treats stopping fewer Asians than whites, or fewer whites than blacks, as suspicious.”
Naturally, “all police departments everywhere are presumptively guilty under the bill.”
And this would result in real world consequences. Bader cites what officers might expect were this bill to become law.
The bill doesn’t explain how they can possibly rebut this presumption of guilt or prove themselves innocent. So if they wish to avoid being sued, and avoid being forced to pay the attorneys fees and expert-witness costs of the person suing them, police departments will have an incentive under the bill to stop only as many men as women — even if more men are speeding or committing crimes — and to adopt racial quotas in police stops.
That could undermine road safety by encouraging police to ignore speeding or other violations just because they were committed by members of a particular gender or race.
Further, Bader points out that “it is unconstitutional to have racial quotas in punishment or arrests.”
It’s hard enough to be a police officer. Adding these senseless conditions would waste the time of both the officer and the woman, the Asian or the white person who is not suspected of wrongdoing, but who must be stopped so a police officer can satisfy the requirements of this misguided piece of legislation.
If an officer observes someone violating the law, they should be stopped regardless of sex or race.
Law enforcement isn’t a game. Making sure that one has a perfectly proportional number of encounters is irrational.
A lot of good officers left law enforcement last year as a result of the Democrats’ “defund the police” campaign. If H.R. 1280 were to become law, we would lose more and no individual with an ounce of common sense would agree to subject themselves to this pointless and nonsensical code of conduct.