LAS VEGAS (KLAS) – Nevada Attorney General Aaron D. Ford joined a coalition of ten attorneys general Tuesday sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell urging the U.S. Senate to pass House Resolution (H.R.) 1280, also known as the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2021. 

George Floyd died while in police custody on May 25 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Credit: Courtesy Ben Crump Law Firm)

The bill will reform law enforcement agencies nationwide and give state attorney generals clear statutory authority to investigate and address patterns or practices of unconstitutional policing and acquire data about use of excessive force by officers. 

“As Nevada’s attorney general, my focus is on justice, and the passage of this Act is critical to bringing justice on behalf of those who have been victimized and mistreated,” said AG Ford. “The killing of George Floyd and several other individuals has sparked outrage and sadness from millions of Americans, and I’m urging the Senate to pass this police reform legislation as quickly as possible so that attorneys general like me can help pursue justice.”   

Arguments begin in the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, who is accused of the May 25, 2020 murder of George Floyd last week.

In this screen grab from video, defense attorney Eric Nelson, left, defendant and former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, right, and Nelson’s assistant Amy Voss, back, introduce themselves to potential jurors as Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill Tuesday, March 23, 2021, presides over jury selection in the trial of Chauvin at the Hennepin County Courthouse in Minneapolis, Minn. Chauvin is charged in the May 25, 2020 death of George Floyd. (Court TV, via AP, Pool)

The legislation is aimed at improving police accountability, transparency in policing practices, and police training and policies. As a result of previous discussions with Congressional leadership, the measure was amended to give state attorneys general authority to conduct pattern-or-practice investigations, particularly in the event that the U.S. Department of Justice fails to use its authority to act. 

The legislation gives state attorneys general authority to issue subpoenas as part of pattern-or-practice investigations and, when necessary, take action in federal district court. The legislation also authorizes appropriations of up to $100 million for a federal grant program to help state attorneys general fund pattern-or-practice investigations during fiscal years 2022 to 2024. 

In addition to enabling attorneys general to conduct pattern-or-practice investigations, H.R. 1280 would also allow them to acquire data about the use of excessive force by law enforcement officers. Such data would be especially important when identifying law enforcement agencies that have above-average rates of excessive force complaints, which can help identify at-risk law enforcement agencies before a devastating incident occurs. For example, Chauvin had 18 prior complaints filed against him with the Minneapolis Police Department’s Internal Affairs. 

The states joining AG Ford in calling on the Senate to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2021 are the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, and Virginia.