Congressman Cleaver Urges Immediate Congressional Action on Policing Reform

Apr 29, 2015
Press Release

Today, Congressman Cleaver released this statement in response to the protests and unrest in Baltimore, Maryland:

“With the recent tragedy and subsequent unrest in Baltimore, Maryland, it is clear now more than ever that we need effective policing reform legislation,” stated Congressman Emanuel Cleaver, II. “Congressional inaction must not thwart meaningful action on policing reform. This includes, but is not limited to the Fair Justice Act, which I am working to introduce with Republican support and the CAM-TIP Act, which I have introduced along with Congressman Al Green (D-TX). People in Ferguson, Staten Island, Cleveland, Baltimore, North Charleston, and cities across the country are crying out for leadership. We, their elected representatives, must not abdicate our responsibilities to act. Political dysfunction should no longer delay policing reform. Make no mistake, this is a matter of life and death.”

“It is clear that there are police officers across this country and people of goodwill who support meaningful policing reforms, such as the utilization of body cameras and ending the policy of taxation by citation. But until Congress steps up to the plate, and – at a minimum — starts to debate legislation on policing reform, it is we as Americans who will be forced to deal with the tragic consequences.”    

The Fair Justice Act, which Congressman Cleaver is preparing to introduce, would bar a municipality from exceeding 30% of its general revenue from traffic tickets and fines. Funds exceeding the 30% cap would then go into a state fund for community policing efforts. It would require each state to pass its own law capping traffic fines at 30% within a year after enactment. The bill would also bar local law enforcement agencies from issuing directives that would allow the agency to issue tickets based on motivations of revenue rather than motivations of public safety. Additionally, this bill would effectively ban police from carrying out “taxation by citation.”

H.R. 1124, the Camera Accountability Maintenance and Transparency in Policing Act of 2015, would establish a grant program for the acquisition, operation, and maintenance of body worn cameras for law enforcement officers. This legislation is important to any and all members of the public who encounter a law enforcement officer, and it is important for the officers themselves. The goal is to increase transparency, protect the rights of all parties involved, and to provide better evidence for any police investigation, both for the citizens and the officers. The bill also calls for a study on the use of body-worn cameras and the establishment of a task force to provide recommendations on community policing.

Emanuel Cleaver, II is the U.S. Representative for Missouri’s Fifth Congressional District, which includes Kansas City, Independence, Lee's Summit, Raytown, Grandview, Sugar Creek, Blue Springs, Grain Valley, Oak Grove, North Kansas City, Gladstone, Claycomo, and all of Ray, Lafayette, and Saline Counties. He is a member of the exclusive House Financial Services Committee, the Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Housing and Insurance, and also a Senior Whip of the Democratic Caucus. A high-resolution photo of Congressman Cleaver is available here.