Senate Republicans Take on Police Reform

Senate Republicans Take on Police Reform

( – Just one week ago, it looked like a new police reform package would pass the House, but it hit a roadblock in the Senate. Now, Senate Republicans are signaling a shift on the subject. The news is making it far more likely Congress will be able to deliver meaningful legislation to President Donald Trump’s desk this month.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) chose Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) to head up a team of GOP Senators to draft a new police reform plan.

McConnell said he chose Scott to lead the way because he’s had experiences with discrimination first hand, being a black man in the United States Senate.

The GOP Legislation

On Tuesday, Scott laid out what will be in the legislation. One thing the Republicans have ruled out is a revision to qualified immunity — a key measure Democrats have been pushing.

Scott told reporters this week the bill would include a notification act that will help them to understand better the large number of no-knock warrants — ones that allow police to enter property without notice — happening across the country. Republicans want more information so they can see exactly where and why these no knocks are occurring.

The GOP package will also include anti-lynching legislation, which was stalled last week in the Senate by Republican Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY).

Other Items On The Table

Scott says they’re also looking into the use of force that leads to serious bodily injury or death. He wants to collect more data on this. “Right now, about 40 percent of the police departments are reporting to the DOJ through the FBI,” said the Republican lawmaker.

Republicans want to see all of the agencies report this data, so they’re going to either provide more resources or possibly reduce grants for agencies that don’t.

The GOP police reform plan also addresses the use of body cameras. Scott said right now, they’re providing funding for body cams, but they plan on significantly increasing those funds. Republicans are also trying to figure out a way to penalize officers who don’t wear them.

De-escalation and bias training is also included in the legislation, as is the mention of directing funding and resources towards the establishment of a national police commission. The commission will study best practices used across all departments.

Scott and the Senate Republicans are hopeful they’ll be able to cooperate with the Trump administration on the legislation. “I have been talking with folks in the White House…certainly, there is a way for us all to work together,” Scott said.

This will likely be ongoing for the next several weeks as the GOP hashes out its contents.

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