The legislation would overhaul standards for police tactics and conduct at the federal level, including a federal ban on no-knock warrants and chokeholds, limits on qualified immunity shielding police from civil lawsuits, a framework to prevent racial profiling and the establishment of a national registry on allegations of police misconduct.
"This bill was named after a man who was murdered by a police officer," Cammack began. "The officer responsible should have never been allowed to don a badge and act on behalf of the agency sworn to protect its citizens. ... As a member of the first responder family, I can say definitively on behalf of our officers, that there is absolutely nothing ... that a good cop hates more than a bad cop."
Cammack then presented one of her husband's bulletproof SWAT vests to the House floor. The police reform bill would put limitations on military-grade equipment given to state and local law enforcement.
"This is the same vest that he wore for 14 hours while on a massive manhunt for a man who had just been released from prison who promptly raped and killed his girlfriend," she said. "It is the same vest he wore while responding to a man who had barricaded himself with weapons, threatening to kill his children. These are just some of the scenes that this vest and my husband have seen as so many of our [law enforcement officers]."
She went on to say the legislation would take the SWAT vest and similar equipment "off the backs of our men and women in uniform."
"Are you waking up at 2 a.m. to respond to a gruesome murder? Are you missing your children's birthday parties to respond to gang shootings?" Cammack asked.
The Florida congresswoman added that there is "absolutely" room to improve on policing tactics and a "necessity" to do better, but if politicians want "a better-trained, more responsible police force" in their locales, they must "fully fund the police."
Since the officer-involved deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Eric Garner and others in 2020, Democratic members of Congress have been pushing for extensive police reform. Some city leaders have also initiated significant police department budget cuts that would reallocate funds to alternative social services that could help respond to criminal activity.
President Biden has previously expressed support for increased police funding.
"Let's get the facts straight. I not only don't want to defund the police. I want to add $300 million to their local budgets to deal with community policing to get police and communities back together again," Biden told Pittsburgh news outlet KDKA in September. He added that the "only person defunding the police" at the time was then-President Trump.
The Trump administration made estimated reductions of $515 million in the 2021 fiscal year budget related to Justice Department funding for state and local law enforcement, as well as cuts for a community policing initiative called Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS), according to a fact check from the Austin American-Statesman.
The White House is now encouraging Congress to pass H.R. 1280.
"President Biden has a long record of championing meaningful policing reform and previously called for the Congress to enact provisions like those in H.R. 1280," a statement from the White House reads. "The [a]dministration encourages the House to pass this legislation and looks forward to working with the Congress to enact a landmark policing reform law."