Gupta Urges Congress to Adopt Strong Police Accountability Framework

Contact: Shin Inouye, [email protected], 202.869.0398

WASHINGTON – In testimony before the House Judiciary Committee, Vanita Gupta, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, called on lawmakers to adopt important policy solutions that promote police accountability and respect the dignity of all people. Prior to The Leadership Conference, Gupta led the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, where she oversaw efforts to address systemic constitutional violations by law enforcement agencies through pattern or practice investigations and the enforcement of consent decrees.

“Now is the time for Congress to pass meaningful, lasting accountability measures that protect communities of color from the systemic perils of over-policing, police brutality, misconduct, harassment, and outright murder,” Gupta said in her testimony. “Public safety needs vary across communities large and small; urban, rural, and suburban; homogenous and diverse. Nevertheless, the principles of fairness, equity, procedural justice, legitimacy, transparency, and accountability are, and must always remain, universal.”

“This moment of reckoning requires leaders, together with communities, to envision a new paradigm for public safety that respects the human rights of all people. That means not just changing policing practices, but shrinking the footprint of the criminal legal system, including police, in Black and Brown people’s lives. And it means shifting our approach to public safety away from exclusive investments in criminalization and policing, toward investments in economic opportunity, education, health care, and other public benefits. This paradigm not only furthers equity, but also constitutes effective policy: When we stop using criminal ‘justice’ policy as social policy, we make communities safer and more prosperous,” Gupta continued.

In her testimony, available here, she outlined specific steps Congress can take, including:

  • Reduce the use of excessive force
  • Prohibit racial profiling and require data collection
  • Ban the use of chokeholds and other restraint maneuvers
  • End militarization of police
  • Prohibit the use of no-knock warrants
  • Strengthen federal accountability systems
  • Create a national police misconduct registry
  • End qualified immunity
  • Invest in non-police responses to crises and community needs

The Leadership Conference and more than 400 other civil rights organizations recently called on congressional leadership to swiftly rectify the legacy of white supremacy and anti-Black racism that has led to police violence against Black people across our country.

The Leadership Conference, along with its sister organization, The Leadership Conference Education Fund, previously launched the New Era of Public Safety initiative featuring tools to increase trust, fairness, justice, and mutual respect between police departments and the communities they serve. The report and toolkit offer recommendations and advocacy tools for communities and police departments to co-create public safety and implement 21st century policing practices.

In 2019, The Leadership Conference launched the Vision for Justice platform that calls for a holistic reimagining of public safety and outlines how we create healthy, inclusive, and safe communities. That platform calls on us to adopt a transformative vision for how we evaluate and determine public safety priorities, while also ending mass incarceration and criminalization.

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights is a coalition charged by its diverse membership of more than 220 national organizations to promote and protect the rights of all persons in the United States. The Leadership Conference works toward an America as good as its ideals. For more information on The Leadership Conference and its member organizations, visit