(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 []

                              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.