US Democrats introduce bill proposing major police overhaul; Trump opposes

House and Senate Democrats held a moment of silence at the Capitol's Emancipation Hall, reading the names of George Floyd and many others killed during police interactions.
US Democrats proposed a far-reaching overhaul of police procedures and accountability, a sweeping legislative response to the mass protests denouncing the deaths of black Americans in the hands of law enforcement agencies. The political outlook is deeply uncertain for the legislation in a polarised election year.

"President Donald Trump is staking out a tough "law and order approach in the face of the outpouring of demonstrations and demands to re-imagine policing in America. We cannot settle for anything less than transformative structural change," said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, drawing on the nation's history of slavery.

Before unveiling the package, House and Senate Democrats held a moment of silence at the Capitol's Emancipation Hall, reading the names of George Floyd and many others killed during police interactions.

They knelt for 8 minutes and 46 seconds now a symbol of police brutality and violence the length of time prosecutors say Floyd was pinned under a white police officer's knee before he died.

This year has seen the lowest crime numbers in our Country’s recorded history, and now the Radical Left Democrats want to Defund and Abandon our Police. Sorry, I want LAW & ORDER!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 8, 2020
Trump, who met with law enforcement officials at the White House, characterized the Democrats as having gone crazy. As activists call for restructuring police departments and even to defund the police, the president tweeted, "LAW & ORDER, NOT DEFUND AND ABOLISH THE POLICE".

Democratic leaders pushed back, saying their proposal would not eliminate police departments a decision for cities and states but establish new oversight.

Joe Biden, the presumed Democratic presidential nominee, does not believe that police should be defunded, said spokesman Andrew Bates.

President Donald Trump is staking out a tough "law and order approach in the face of the outpouring of demonstrations and demands to re-imagine policing in America.

The Justice in Policing Act would limit legal protections for police, create a national database of excessive-force incidents and ban police choke holds, among other changes, the most ambitious law enforcement reforms sought by Congress in years.

The legislation would revise the federal criminal police misconduct statute to make it easier to prosecute officers who are involved in misconduct knowingly or with reckless disregard.

The package would also change qualified immunity protections for police to more broadly enable damage claims in lawsuits.

The legislation would seek to provide greater transparency of police behaviour in several ways.

For one, it would grant subpoena power to the Justice Department to conduct pattern and practice investigations of potential misconduct and help states conduct independent investigations.

A person wears a mask with a message at the Minneapolis corner where George Floyd was restrained by Minneapolis police

It would ban racial profiling, boost requirements for police body cameras and limit the transfer of military equipment to local jurisdictions.

And it would create a National Police Misconduct Registry, a database to try to prevent officers from transferring from one department to another with past misconduct undetected, the draft says.

A long-sought federal anti-lynching bill that has stalled in Congress is included in the package.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., a co-author with Rep. Karen Bass, D-Calif., and Democratic senators, will convene a hearing on the legislation Wednesday.

The legislation confronts several aspects of policing that have come under strong criticism, especially as more and more police violence is captured on cellphone video and shared widely across the nation and the world.

The world is witnessing the birth of a new movement in this country, said Rep. Bass, chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus, which is leading the House effort.

She called the proposal bold and transformative.

While Democrats are expected to swiftly approve the legislation this month, it does not go as far as some activists want. The outlook for passage in the Republican-held Senate is slim.



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