Adam Schleifer -- Former Prosecutor and Congressional Candidate -- Releases Plan to Reform Policing in America

Schleifer Will Push Federal Legislation that Holds Law Enforcement Accountable for Misconduct, Mandates Accurate Federal Database For Police-Involved Deaths, and Scales Effective Implicit-Bias Trainings

Schleifer: “The Status Quo is Not an Option”

White Plains, NY – Days after George Floyd died under the knee of a Minneapolis police officer, Adam P. Schleifer, Democratic candidate for U.S. Congress in New York’s 17th District, unveiled his plan to reform policing in America. As a former federal prosecutor, Schleifer understands, as President Obama recently noted, that the focus of police reform must be at the state and local level, but his plan empowers the federal government to play a greater role in reining in excess force and reducing police brutality against people of color.

Schleifer’s plan consists of a combination of criminal legislation and incentives to reduce violence and strengthen police-community relations. The plan focuses on three core tenets: holding officers more accountable for unnecessary violence; tracking police disciplinary history through an accurate federal database of police-involved deaths; and targeting funding to research and scale effective implicit-bias trainings.

“The status quo is not an option,” said Schleifer. “Police reform is a necessity to protect Black Americans and bring greater community cohesion to our country,” Schleifer said. “One of my top priorities in Congress will be to pass legislation that defines abuses when law enforcement act under the color of law and holds bad actors accountable.”

Schleifer continued: “250 years after the unrealized promise of the Declaration of Independence; 150 years after the end of slavery, ‘its badges,’ and the amendments we passed in a failed attempt to move past our nation’s original sin; 50 years after MLK awoke our consciousness and moral imagination by helping all Americans see the ‘sweltering heat’ of racial injustice: We see today as clearly as ever that we have so much further to go to realize the unmet vision of our constitution.”

1. Schleifer’s proposed legislation defines police abuses and would hold rogue officers accountable for unnecessary violence. His legislation lowers the barriers to investigate and prosecute police officers for misconduct. Currently, federal law provides “qualified immunity” to government officials, including law enforcement officials, which protects them from being sued for actions performed within their official capacity. The law of qualified immunity has mutated into an unworkable, unfair, and counterintuitive set of barriers that denies justice in some cases even when courts conclude a violation has occurred. Schleifer would sponsor legislation overriding this doctrine and replacing it with workable, fair, and clear standards for liability that promote clarity, justice, and safety. Additionally, Schleifer will call on the DOJ to enumerate harmful restraints outside of acceptable police practice that could trigger civil or criminal liability.

2. Schleifer would pass legislation that establishes a national database through the Department of Justice to track these crimes and police disciplinary history so that law enforcement agencies can sufficiently vet applications for new officers, regardless of where they may have previously served. It is unacceptable that an officer fired for abuse be able to get the same job two towns over.

3. Schleifer would fund new research and training programs to reduce police-related killings of unarmed persons. Schleifer would target federal funding to study and scale the most effective implicit bias training programs and tools available to law enforcement. Schleifer notes that while a number of implicit bias trainings are offered nationally to increase an officer’s awareness of their own racial biases, few of these have been rigorously tested for their overall efficacy. Schleifer would incentivize law enforcement to take up these programs if they did not already by tying it to federal funding for other programs, like for body-worn cameras.

About Adam Schleifer:

Adam Schleifer, 38, graduated from Chappaqua’s public schools in 1999 and went on to attend Cornell University and Columbia University Law School, where he served as a Senior & Staff Development Editor on the Columbia Law Review. After graduating from law school, Schleifer served two years as a federal law clerk, first in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, and then in the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

Schleifer then built a career at one of the nation’s leading law firms before reentering public service, first as a New York State consumer-protection regulator, and then as an Assistant United States Attorney. Schleifer has prosecuted regulatory and federal-criminal actions against predatory payday and subprime auto lenders; taken dangerous and illegal weapons out of communities; prosecuted crimes of sexual violence and predation; and protected our clean air by prosecuting a conspiracy to violate the Clean Air Act. Adam Schleifer and his wife, Nicole, are residents of New Castle.

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