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SPLC Action Fund condemns Georgia governor's decision to sign House Bill 838

New law will make it harder to remove bad law enforcement

ATLANTA- Earlier this week Georgia Governor Brian Kemp signed House Bill 838, which will grant police officers special status beyond what ordinary citizens enjoy. The new law, which goes into effect on January 1, 2021, will make it harder for police departments and sheriff’s offices that seek to discipline law enforcement officers accused of misconduct. No other government workers are given these procedural protections to protect them against charges of misconduct.
 
Between 2018-2019, there were 172 police-involved shootings investigated in Georgia, and HB 838 will make it harder for some of those officers to be decertified. 
 
The following is a statement from Isabel Otero, interim policy associate at the SPLC Action Fund.
 
“Despite passing hate crimes legislation to address biased crimes based on someone’s immutable characteristics, the Georgia General Assembly and Governor Kemp created a new ‘hate crime’ against law enforcement that will shield them from accountability. This is shameful. Countless Black lives have been lost at the hands of police and state-sanctioned violence and these actions show their contempt for communities of color.
 
“Instead of building power with Black, Indigenous, and communities of color in our state, Governor Kemp and his allies are using HB838 to create a legal means for law enforcement to retaliate against those who seek to hold them accountable. Law enforcement in Georgia enjoys more protections under state law than any other group, and this law sends a clear message that Georgia does not prioritize the needs of our communities and will continue to protect those in power. The people of Georgia deserve better leadership.”