Congressional Black Caucus Chair Karen Bass Calls for National Database of Abusive Police Officers

Congressional Black Caucus Chair Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA) has called for the creation of a national database of abusive police officers to ensure that they cannot be hired elsewhere after losing their jobs over their behavior.

Bass, who also serves as the House Judiciary Crime Subcommittee Chair, issued the call as she and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), announced that the committee would be holding a hearing examining the "crisis of racial profiling, police brutality and lost trust between police departments and the communities they serve."

The hearing is expected to be held on Wednesday, June 10 starting at 10 a.m. ET. The witnesses participating in the hearing have yet to be announced. Lawmakers are expecting to hear from community leaders, advocates, academics and law enforcement.

Plans for the hearing come amid widespread protests ignited across the country and around the world over the death of George Floyd, a black man who died after a white Minneapolis police officer, Derek Chauvin, kneeled on his neck for nearly nine minutes during an arrest on May 25.

In a statement, Bass said that the U.S. is facing a "moral moment" and lawmakers in Congress "must look at legislation to address laws that shield police officers from ever being accountable."

As part of that effort, Bass said lawmakers must push forward legislation requiring the creation of a database keeping track of "abusive law enforcement officers."

While rules vary between states and police departments, as it stands in the U.S. police officers who are dismissed by one department are likely to have the opportunity to be hired by another department elsewhere.

Often known as "wandering cops," there have long been calls for action to address police officers who are able to move from department to department after being dismissed over conduct.

A database, Bass said, would ensure that abusive officers "lose the privilege" of being able to return to policing if they lose their jobs in any given precinct over their behavior.

"For years, we have introduced legislation addressing police brutality," Bass said.

Wednesday's upcoming hearing, she said, would be Congress's "next step in implementing change to our system."

Nadler also called for Congress to take action in response to "protests taking place in every state as people take a stand against police brutality and racism."

"People are rightfully upset, they are frustrated, and they want to be heard," he said. "They want real change, not meaningless words. I want Americans to know that I hear them, and I see them.

"The House Judiciary Committee is working very closely with the Congressional Black Caucus to determine the best path forward to address police brutality and racial inequality," Nadler said.

On Tuesday, he noted, lawmakers had held a listening session to hear recommendations from CEOs of national advocacy organizations.

Next week's hearing, he said, would give lawmakers more insight into the issue as they review legislative proposals on how to combat police brutality and systemic racism.

Congress members, Nadler said, would be considering legislation over the coming weeks.

Karen Bass
Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA) questions Intelligence Committee Minority Counsel Stephen Castor and Intelligence Committee Majority Counsel Daniel Goldman during the House impeachment inquiry hearings in the Longworth House Office Building on Capitol Hill December 9, 2019 in Washington, D.C. Bass has called for the creation of a database tracking abusive police officers. Doug Mills-Pool/Getty