ATLANTA (WUPA) – Georgia lawmakers have announced bills that, if passed, would hold police accountable in alleged brutality cases, and families are rallying behind the effort.
Countless stories of alleged police brutality are echoing across the country, including the most recent headlines drawing attention to the case of Tyre Nichols. Many cases in Georgia have gained national attention, and the grieving families of men killed by police in this state are hoping to prevent more names from making the headlines.
Family members and advocates are demanding that state lawmakers pass legislation holding officers accountable.
“We’re here to support one another. We’re here to move and reach out to legislators,” said Jimmy Hill, the father of Jimmy Atcheson.
Atcheson was shot and killed in 2019 when officers attempted to serve an arrest warrant that his family says was unwarranted. Former APD Officer Sung Kim was indicted in December 2022 and is facing murder charges.
Democratic lawmakers joined the Georgia NAACP during a press conference on Thursday where they announced the proposed police accountability bills. These include:
House Bill 107, or the Police Accountability Act. This would require all law enforcement agencies to provide a body-worn camera to every officer and require such body cameras be turned on during interactions with the public. It would also require the public release of certain video and audio recordings captured by body-worn cameras.
House Bill 112, or the Ethical Policing Act. This would provide additional procedures and requirements for law enforcement officers and agencies in order to ensure “ethical policing” in Georgia and set new standards for policing in Georgia law.
House Bill 113, or the Preventing Tragedies Between Police and Communities Act. This measure would require police departments to provide de-escalation training to law enforcement officers. Specifically, this legislation would require training on the use of alternative, non-lethal methods and first using the lowest level of necessary force. Police would also utilize verbal and physical tactics to minimize the need for the use of force.
House Bill 115, or the End Racial Profiling Act, would prohibit racial profiling by law enforcement officers and law enforcement agencies.
Democratic lawmakers are hoping for bipartisan support in order to pass these police accountability bills, and they’re also urging federal lawmakers to pass the George Floyd Policing Act.
Advocates say it took years to pass the hate crimes bill that Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp signed into law after Ahmaud Arbery’s death, and they’re hoping he’ll do the same with these bills.
When contacted about these police reform measures, Kemp’s office said, “Out of respect for the legislative process, it is our practice not to comment on pending legislation.”
Georgia NAACP President Gerald Griggs said Georgia needs to lead the nation by being proactive and not reactive.
“This is not about being anti-law enforcement. It’s about being pro-justice,” he said.
Lawmakers said being pro-justice also means giving law enforcement officers a voice in the process through conversations. As for the families, their march for justice continues.