WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — House Democrats are trying to revive legislation they have been working on for years to address the use of deadly police force.
They hope the current nationwide protests following the death of George Floyd generate enough momentum for action in Congress.
“There’s unquestionably a need for police reform,” Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN) said.
Cohen’s bills would track incidents of deadly police force and create a financial incentive for states to require training on fair and impartial policing. They would also encourage the use of independent prosecutors to investigate the use of deadly force.
“It’s not anything new,” he said. “It’s just now is the time for them to be considered.”
Cohen’s legislation could not make it out of committee when Republicans controlled the House. Now that Democrats have the upper hand, he hopes these and other reforms can pass.
Fellow House Judiciary Committee member Rep. Mike Johnson (R-LA) said lawmakers can all see that there are still deep-seated problems across the country.
“The crisis necessitates authentic reconciliation and transformative solutions for systematic change,” Johnson said. “I think we all agree that those are long overdue.”
While Johnson did not say what specific measures he would support, Cohen said the committee also plans to consider federal laws against restraints, like knee-to-neck and chokeholds, and maybe even a national standard for the use of deadly force. Another proposal would establish a national database of terminated officers.
The committee plans to hold hearings on potential police reform measures over the next several weeks in an effort to pass legislation out of committee and to the House floor for a vote when members return to Washington at the end of June.
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