June 18, 2020 - Issue: Vol. 166, No. 113 — Daily Edition116th Congress (2019 - 2020) - 2nd Session
INTRODUCTION OF THE PROMOTING FAIR AND EFFECTIVE POLICING THROUGH RESEARCH ACT; Congressional Record Vol. 166, No. 113
(Extensions of Remarks - June 18, 2020)
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[Extensions of Remarks] [Page E545] From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov] INTRODUCTION OF THE PROMOTING FAIR AND EFFECTIVE POLICING THROUGH RESEARCH ACT ______ HON. EDDIE BERNICE JOHNSON of texas in the house of representatives Thursday, June 18, 2020 Ms. JOHNSON of Texas. Madam Speaker, today I am introducing the Promoting Fair and Effective Policing Through Research Act. We are a nation in mourning. Our shared anguish over the loss of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Rayshard Brooks, Botham Jean and countless other black men and women at the hands of police has spurred a growing chorus of Americans to demand not only justice, but meaningful and lasting change. Cities across the nation are grappling with how to respond. A number of officials have committed to sweeping reductions in police department funding and embraced a move toward innovative approaches to providing public safety. Others are calling for more resources for police departments and advocating for procedural reforms. I am heartened that we, as a nation, are engaging in a substantive discourse about the role of policing in American society. This day is long overdue and has come at too high a cost, but we must seize this opportunity. We must dig deep to examine how the history and culture of policing in America has brought us to this tumultuous place. And, in our search for solutions, we must be guided by evidence grounded in data and scientific research. First and foremost, we must have a national database on police use of force, and I am glad to see this included in the Justice in Policing Act. We must explore the legacy of policing and the root cause of the racial disparities we observe. We must assess the organizational influences on policing--such as recruitment, training, and performance evaluation. We must examine promising practices for promoting accountability and fostering community trust. We must study the influence of technology and big data on vulnerable populations and work to root out any biases. Finally, we must establish meaningful partnerships between law enforcement and researchers to empower jurisdictions to tailor proven solutions to meet their needs and the needs of the communities they serve. The bill I am introducing today directs the National Science Foundation (NSF) to fund social and behavioral research on policing policies, including the causes, consequences, and mitigation of police violence. NSF is directed to support collaborative partnerships between social science researchers, law enforcement agencies, and civil society organizations. The bill also provides for a National Academies study to identify research gaps related to law enforcement policies, collect promising practices, and make recommendations for advancing research and implementation of proven solutions. This bill would also address research and standards for biometric identification technologies, including facial recognition technologies. If we allow inaccuracies or biases to persist in these systems, then when deployed in high-impact situations, like decision making in the criminal justice system, those biases will disproportionately harm communities of color. Important research and testing at the National Institute of Standards and Technology has already helped identify the biases and improve the accuracy of these systems. This bill directs NIST to expand upon these efforts and focus on new areas in need of testing, such as capture devices. This bill will also help lead to standardization of methodologies and practices to eliminate biases across the industry and develop guidance to inform law enforcement procurement decisions. Importantly, science and standardization are only two pieces in the biometric puzzle. We need a national privacy law to limit the risk of abuse from biometric identification technologies. I call on my colleagues in the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, and the House Committee on the Judiciary to take up this issue with haste. Finally, the bill leverages science at the Department of Homeland Security to support the reduction of excessive use of force and lethal use of force by law enforcement. There have been too many fatal encounters with not only state and local police across the country, but also with Federal law enforcement, including the U.S. Park Police. This bill requires the Under Secretary for Science and Technology to consult with the Federal Law Enforcement Training Centers to support research and data analysis to improve training, policies, and practices for Federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement officials. The Department's research and support for risk assessment tools can assist in the development of guidelines and best practices for policing and police training, including how to mitigate racial bias and minimize the use of excessive force. I urge my colleagues to join me and help move this legislation forward into law. ____________________