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Social workers for police reform

As the president of the National Association of Social Workers, I would like to share the stand we take with regard to the administration’s executive order on policing.

It is wholly inadequate. The Justice in Policing Act (H.R. 7120), introduced on June 8 by social worker Rep. Karen Bass, D-Calif., chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, comes close to getting it right.

Ending systemic racism cannot be achieved with a single act of Congress. Numerous reforms are needed at all levels. But the Justice in Policing Act is a crucial step forward. This urgently needed legislation, supported by more than 200 members of the House, calls for comprehensive changes in police culture and policies — changes that address the systemic, root causes of distrust of police in communities of color. The essential provisions in the bill include:

(1) Banning racial and religious profiling

(2) Mandating national use of force guidelines

(3) Banning the use of chokeholds

(4) Ending no-knock warrants except in extreme cases

(5) Ending the militarization of state and local law enforcement agencies

(6) Mandating the creation of a national database of police fired for use of excessive force

(7) Ending qualified Immunity for police accused of violating excessive force policies

NASW applauds states and localities that — with or without federal mandates that incentivize policing reform — plan to reallocate and reinvest their public safety budgets to provide behavioral health, social services, crisis intervention (de-escalation) training and other programs.