A year after police officer Derek Chauvin murdered George Floyd outside of a Minneapolis convenience store, igniting a racial reckoning and months of protest against police brutality, USC’s Safe Communities Institute is in the process of developing a first-of-its kind comprehensive police misconduct registry.
Named after late Georgia congressman and civil rights leader John Lewis, the LEWIS Registry—the acronym stands for Law Enforcement Work Inquiry System—is meant to keep cops who were fired or resigned for serious infractions including excessive use of force, corruption, domestic violence, sexual assault, and hate group affiliation from picking up and joining another department.
Erroll Southers, director of USC Safe Communities Institute, told NBC Los Angeles that it’s a phenomenon known as “bouncing,” and in California, where police personnel files are protected, there’s currently nothing to prevent bad cops from doing it. Just last year, state legislation that would have decertified officers who faced discipline for serious misconduct failed to pass.
A national police misconduct registry is part of the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, which passed the House of Representatives in March but has yet to be taken up in the Senate, where it will need the support of ten Republicans to pass.
Perhaps surprisingly, a YouGov survey performed in winter 2020 determined that there’s overwhelming bipartisan support for a national policing registry, with 73.45 percent of Republicans surveyed voicing support, along with 90.75 percent of Democrats.
In a statement to NBC, the Police Protective League said it has privacy concerns about the database: “We have serious concerns over any private entity that promotes their own database as it lacks public accountability and safeguards to ensure that officers are not mistakenly added to the private database for unverified and invalidated complaints, and/or which discloses officer’s personal information, such as home addresses.”
According to Southers, the registry should be online for the public this fall, and will be followed by a version meant to be used by police departments.
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