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Congressman Jason Crow introduces Use of Force Accountability Act

Posted at 9:18 PM, May 07, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-08 00:27:32-04

DENVER — The pressure is on Congress after repeated calls from President Joe Biden to pass police reform legislation by the anniversary of George Floyd's death.

In the meantime, Democratic U.S. Rep. Jason Crow said he's not waiting to introduce more measures of accountability for law enforcement.

"We shouldn't be surprised by things continuing to happen unless we do something to change it. Things will continue to happen unless you do things to correct course and you change policies," Crow said.

On Friday, Crow introduced the Use of Force Accountability Act. The bill would require states to have a law mandating independent investigations after any use of force that results in death or injury.

"If you're a lawyer, you're a doctor, you're a nurse, you're accountable to review boards and regulatory agencies. We know in every other aspect of American life, in almost any other job or profession that independent review gets you better outcomes, and policing is no different," Crow said.

Bill specifics would also mean states that do not comply with establishing a form of independent review would have their federal grant money through the Department of Justice withheld.

"In this case, it's the COPS grants and the JAG funding, and if departments and states want to continue receiving that funding, then they have to implement laws and processes to conduct internal reviews or independent reviews, which are then referred to their internal affairs department," the lawmaker said.

The independent review of an officer's actions could come from a fellow law enforcement agency, a citizen panel, a state attorney general or local prosecutors.

"The system right now as designed means that most departments police themselves, and that's not bringing us very good results," Crow said.

The state has had its fair share of national spotlight from uses of force that resulted in death and alleged injury, including the death of Elijah McClain in Aurora and the arrest of Karen Garner in Loveland.

In Colorado, Denver has its own Citizen Oversight Board. In Aurora, the Community Police Task Force recommended to City Council in April that an independent citizen's oversight office with subpoena power be established.

Meanwhile, Crow believes more progress needs to happen statewide and in the nation.

"We have to look at every element of reform that's needed and push it as hard as we can," Crow said.

Crow added that he's been in contact with Elijah McClain's mother while crafting the bill. He also shared the support of the Aurora NAACP.

“The Aurora Branch fully supports the effort of Congressman Crow to address police reform. Guidance from Congress will assist with uniformity when it comes to police accountability and transparency. We must begin to look at a new philosophy towards public safety so that we can build trust between the community and peace officers. Congressman Crow's bill is a great start to making that happen,” said Aurora NAACP President Omar Montgomery in press release from the lawmaker's office.

Denver7 reached out to several unions and associations representing law enforcement officers both statewide and nationally, but none were able to provide comment on the proposed legislation.