HOUSTON — A bill is moving forward that will change the landscape of policing in America.
House lawmakers have passed a sweeping police reform bill named after George Floyd. The bill aims to create a national standard for police in an effort to hold officers who use excessive force more accountable.
The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act crossed its first hurdle toward becoming law on Wednesday.
The House voted in favor of the bill that tackles police brutality and racism.
“An act like this is a lifesaver because people actually have to look and pay attention to when systemic racism is being perpetuated in policing,” Floyd’s friend and pastor at Resurrection Houston Patrick Ngwolo said.
The bill would ban chokeholds and no-knock warrants in certain cases.
“Just to see some progress and at least some actualization, at least some acknowledgment that it exists, in particular with policing, I think goes a long way in showing good faith,” Ngwolo said.
It also prohibits racial profiling and would mandate data collection during police encounters.
After the death of Floyd last year, NAACP Houston president Bishop James Dixon said universal guidelines are needed.
“These acts and policies should ensure that it does not happen again, and again, and again," Dixon said.
Houston Police Officers’ Union President Douglas Griffith said, like in any profession, there are changes that can be made. He wants to see a bill that supports officers and helps the community trust police.
“A lot of the stuff in the George Floyd bill we already do in the city of Houston. In fact, probably 90% of it,” Griffith said.
The union doesn’t want to get rid of qualified immunity which protects government officials from civil suit. Griffith said it would deter law-abiding officers.
“You have no officer in this state wanting to do this job because why would you jeopardize your family’s safety because you’re acting within the color of law and doing your job,” Griffith said.
Houston leaders want to make sure all issues are addressed in the act before it has a chance of becoming law.
“We do not want to dishonor his legacy by passing bills and acts that may not be of the proper substance," Dixon said.
The bill still has a long way to go before becoming law.
It has to pass the Senate before reaching President Joe Biden’s desk.