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Julian Castro unveils plan to overhaul U.S. policing policies

Democratic presidential hopeful Julián Castro on Monday unveiled a plan to overhaul the nation’s policing policies, saying officers should be held accountable for the use of excessive force.

Mr. Castro wants to establish national standards for the conduct of officers and local departments that receive federal funding, including requirements for internal reviews and disciplinary action.

“We’re going to hold police departments and police officers accountable in this country for excessive force,” the former Obama administration official said over the weekend at a forum hosted by the advocacy group MoveOn. “How many of these videos do we have to watch to understand that even though we have some great police officers, this is not a case of bad apples. The system is broken.”

The issue of excessive police force has become a major issue in recent years amid high-profile deaths of black men and women at the hands of police officers.

Mr. Castro’s campaign said the plan is “one of the most broad and consequential overhauls of local policing in decades,” and the first proposal of its kind released by a 2020 Democratic presidential candidate.

Mr. Castro’s plan would also entail pre-employment screenings to “identify prejudices,” and use federal grants “to incentivize police departments to enact residency requirements and other efforts to ensure not only that law enforcement officers live in the communities they protect, but also that police departments look like the communities they serve,” according to his campaign.

He wants to expand the use of body cameras and restrict the use of deadly force unless there is an “imminent threat” to the life of someone and all “reasonable alternatives” have been exhausted.

Mr. Castro would also establish a national database that tracks decertified police officers, and work with Congress to make it easier to prosecute police officers for misconduct.

He would end the transfer of military-grade equipment to local police departments under the federal government’s “1033” program, and end a federal program known as 287(g) that effectively deputizes local law enforcement officials to enforce federal immigration law.

Mr. Castro would also work with Congress to pass legislation that would ban racial profiling and “stop and frisk” policies that entail “vague” explanations of suspicion.

The plan would also eliminate the use of police officers as “disciplinary agents” in schools that receive taxpayer money.

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