Business Roundtable Calls on Congress to Pass Bipartisan Policing Reform Before August Recess

Jul 1, 2020

Washington – Following the organization’s Q2 CEO Quarterly Meeting, Business Roundtable called on Congress to commit to pass bipartisan policing reform before the August recess. There is significant good faith disagreement on key issues, and Business Roundtable today outlined a set of recommendations to forge bipartisan consensus, while also announcing a nationwide advocacy campaign to secure urgent enactment of reforms.

“Congress cannot afford to let this moment pass. There is room for bipartisan agreement on many critical issues of policing reform, but the issues will be resolved only in negotiations between the House and Senate. Business Roundtable once again calls on the Senate to debate Senator Scott’s proposals and other members’ amendments and move a bill that can be negotiated with the House,” said Joshua Bolten, President & CEO of Business Roundtable.
“Corporate America cannot sit this one out. CEOs are leaning forward and saying ‘we have a problem.’ You cannot watch the George Floyd video and say ‘we don’t have a problem’,” said Randall Stephenson, Executive Chairman, AT&T, who leads the Roundtable’s Racial Equity and Justice Subcommittee on Equitable Justice. “Our employees, customers and communities want us to engage because, first and foremost, we have a moral imperative to ensure everyone in our country is treated fairly in our justice system. And we, as businesses, don’t thrive unless we have safe communities. You can’t separate the two.”
Added Stephenson: “There’s a national outcry for reform. With these policy recommendations as a starting point for possible bipartisan consensus, we call on all Members of Congress to act with urgency and get something done and signed into law before August."

With a focus on principles that are key to any successful enterprise – transparency, accountability, standards and training – CEOs urge bipartisan consensus around fundamental issues, including:

Community Engagement: No effort to address policing issues will succeed without strong partnership and trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve, including neighborhood and civil rights groups, schools, religious leaders, social workers and mental health professionals, local employers and others. Business Roundtable applauds bipartisan support for more investment in programs to promote community policing and increase police force diversity and community representation. Business Roundtable members further commit to working with community groups to uplift underserved populations. 

Data Collection and Transparency: Transparency is a core democratic value. It is essential not only to better protect our citizens, but also to build trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve. Better data on law enforcement officer misconduct will improve departments’ hiring decisions, hold departments accountable, inform solutions, and enable better targeting of resources. To obtain federal funding, police departments should be required to collect, maintain and report data, including on detentions and use of force, as well as demographic information about arrests and detainees.  

Accountability: The vast majority of police officers are dedicated public servants who pursue their work with courage and decency. For police officers who abuse their positions, or departments that allow abusive behavior, accountability is critical. 

Business Roundtable supports the establishment of a National Police Misconduct Registry to maintain disciplinary records of officers, which will inform hiring decisions and promote public accountability. Data aggregated at the department level should also be made available to the public. 

Further, the Department of Justice should establish minimum decertification standards to guide misconduct investigations, which should be carried to completion, whether or not an officer leaves the force, with findings of misconduct entered permanently on an officer’s record and available in a National Police Misconduct Registry. 

To foster accountability at the department level, Business Roundtable supports grants to states to conduct pattern or practice investigations. Experience with Department of Justice investigations into actions involving a pattern or practice of conduct that violates individuals’ civil rights has shown that these types of investigations can lead to the adoption of new and constructive policies and procedures at the department level. 

Minimum National Policing Standards: While principal responsibility for policing should remain at the state and local level, the continued crisis of excessive use of force, the loss of Black lives and the related loss of trust in law enforcement across many communities of color necessitates federal minimum standards for policing that are readily understood by the American public and tied to eligibility for federal grants. These standards should include a minimum national standard on use of lethal and non-lethal force; bans on chokeholds and carotid holds, except when deadly force is warranted; a duty to intervene; a ban on racial profiling; and a Department of Justice review and establishment of minimum credentialing and accreditation standards and procedures for officers. 

Business Roundtable also urges policymakers to raise the standard for use of no-knock warrants and to require police departments to collect and report data around their use, including demographic information about the subjects, injuries, fatalities and whether use of the warrant produced admissible evidence of criminal activity.

Training: Business Roundtable supports federal investments in more robust training programs, including on alternatives to use of force, de-escalation and crisis intervention, mitigation of implicit racial bias, and methods to intervene to prevent another officer’s excessive use of force. Business Roundtable also supports vital investments in training to allow officers to better respond to mental health and addiction – an under-resourced area – including through co-response with social workers and mental health experts. Federally-supported training programs should be rigorously studied to ensure their effectiveness. Business Roundtable welcomes the opportunity to assist police departments in developing sound, data-driven training.

There are a number of other issues likely to be addressed as part of the final negotiations, including compensation or restitution for victims. Business Roundtable would welcome the opportunity to play a constructive role on any issue. To achieve meaningful reform that fosters trust between police departments and the communities they serve, Business Roundtable urges Members of Congress to come together and enact legislation before Congress’s August recess.

During the Independence Day recess, Business Roundtable will continue direct engagement with members of Congress and civil rights, community and law enforcement leaders. Business Roundtable will also run a nationwide radio and digital ad campaign calling for urgent action on policing reform.

Said Doug McMillon, Chairman & CEO of Walmart and Chairman of Business Roundtable: “There is no question that businesses can – and should – play a role in addressing the systemic inequities that Black Americans as well as other people of color face when it comes to policing in our nation today. One way we can make a difference is by putting the full weight of Business Roundtable behind specific priorities that ensure fair, just and equitable policing. We will be using our resources to help build on the momentum that already exists because of the efforts of millions of Americans of all ages and all races who are urgently demanding solutions to the crisis and that bring an end to the senseless killing.”

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