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A bill intended to reform policing in America that won bipartisan support in the wake of the May 2020 police murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis — which caused protests across the U.S. and even across the globe — has failed.
The bill was spearheaded by Republican South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott and Democratic New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, as well as Democratic Rep. Karen Bass of California, who all announced this week that they have reached an impasse.
As TheGrio previously reported, Scott blamed Democrats for roadblocking law enforcement reform in the United States with repeated calls to defund the police amid heightened national scrutiny toward police violence.
Yet, two major police organizations recently spoke in support of the bill.
“The International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) and the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) are disappointed that Senate negotiators could not reach agreement on police reform legislation, and we thank all those Members of Congress who partnered with us in this effort,” read the joint statement from IACP and FOP officials.
“Despite some media reports, at no point did any legislative draft propose ‘defunding the police,’” they assert. “It is our joint belief that the provisions under discussion would have strengthened the law enforcement profession and helped improve the state of community police engagement without compromising management and officers’ rights, authorities and legal protections.”
Scott has contended that his reason for failing to support the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act was the bill called for “defunding” police. Senator Booker has stated it would have given “millions of dollars more” to police. “We want to help officers with mental health issues,” Booker said on CNN’s State of the Union Sunday. “We want to collect more data, so we should give more resources.”
The police reform bill would lower the criminal intent standard — from willful to knowing or reckless — to convict a law enforcement officer for misconduct in a federal prosecution, limit qualified immunity as a defense to liability in a private civil action against a law enforcement officer and grant administrative subpoena power to the Department of Justice in pattern-or-practice investigations.
It aims to increase accountability for law enforcement misconduct, restrict the use of certain policing practices, enhance transparency and data collection and establish best practices and training requirements.
According to the IACP and FOP, the nation’s officers appear to be open to long-requested legislation. Scott, however, no longer is.
“Our organizations remain steadfast in working with all interested parties who are willing to take a fact-based approach to enact effective and lasting change,” their statement continued, “to avoid a patchwork of state laws that do not provide uniform standards and guidance to the policing profession. The IACP and the FOP will continue to embrace the challenge, instill strong values into our agencies at all ranks, and hold ourselves accountable for our actions, in order to build a more cohesive and safer future for our communities.”
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