mobile btn
Friday, March 24th, 2023

PEACE Act represents bicameral push to reform federal police standards for use of lethal force

© Shutterstock

Particularly in the last few years, across several high-profile cases, police in the United States have come under heavy scrutiny for their use of force, and recently, a bill known as the PEACE Act was introduced to reform federal standards permitting the use of lethal force.

Released as a joint effort by U.S. Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA) and U.S. Sen. Alex Padilla (D-CA), the bill would effectively restrict federal law enforcement from utilizing deadly force or less lethal force unless necessary to prevent imminent death or serious bodily harm. It would incentivize states to adopt similar laws or policies. Such legislation was tried once before as the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, which was advanced by the House last Congress but was not ultimately taken up by the Senate.

“The use of force should always be a last resort,” Khanna said, adding that the legislation was a long overdue change. “This bill is about preventing the deadly escalation of force to save innocent lives and protect police officers’ lives as well. Everyone is safer when we prioritize communication and de-escalation.”

Incentivization as such and raising the federal use of force standards were recommended to House leadership in a letter from more than 450 civil rights organizations in 2020. The efforts also build on California’s Act to Save Lives (AB 392) legislation, which codified the necessity standard into state law.

“We must ensure that law enforcement officers, who put their lives on the line every day to ensure our safety, have clear guidelines on the use of deadly force,” Padilla said. “Unfortunately, we’ve seen over and over again the tragic consequences, particularly in communities of color, when we don’t. The PEACE Act will work to raise the standard on use of deadly force to save lives and hold the federal law enforcement officers who serve our communities to the high standard that Americans deserve.”