By DA Rachael Rollins
America as a whole is just beginning to recognize what Black and brown people have known for generations – that law enforcement and the criminal legal system do not treat all people equally. As leaders and elected prosecutors work to create more just and equitable systems at the local level, the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2021 is working at the national level to do the same. This legislation is an important step toward addressing systemic racism and abuses as a country while striving to build greater trust in our criminal legal system and helping acknowledge our nation’s painful origins and history of targeted harm and oppression. This bill improves the ability of individuals and communities to seek accountability for abuses of power and civil rights violations committed by members of law enforcement. It reinforces the core belief that those who serve in positions of authority should be held to a higher standard. The majority of the police officers and law enforcement partners that my staff and I work with everyday meet this high expectation. They represent their agencies and their badge with honor, exhibiting cultural competence and restraint in all of their encounters with community. This federal legislation takes steps to address the actions of the outliers, those officers who display malice, hate, violence, and escalation in their encounters with poor, Black and brown communities. By acknowledging the systemic racism built into the very fabric of our criminal legal system and the law enforcement agencies that are entrusted to serve and protect every community, but often have tensions within diverse communities across the country, we have begun walking the long path to reconciliation and healing. I want to thank the Massachusetts congressional delegation for unanimously supporting this bill, and I urge the Senate to take swift action and send it to President Biden’s desk.