Chauvin verdict renews push for federal police reform, but lawmakers’ plans vary

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Reports show more than 18 million of people tuned in to hear the verdict in the Derek Chauvin murder trial.

But some say the guilty verdict alone doesn’t mean justice for George Floyd. Activists and leaders across the U.S., including in the Kansas City area, are hoping to see federal policy changes. 

Missouri Democratic Rep. Emanuel Cleaver is a sponsor of the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act. The bill has cleared the House, but right now it doesn’t have the Senate votes to pass. Many senators believe the bill contains too much federal oversight for what they say should be the job of local or state governments. 

“Particularly in communities like ours. You can drive from Kansas, to Missouri, or walk from Kansas, Missouri, in three seconds. So it’s helpful if the laws are very similar as you’re crossing that street. So we’ve got to have national standards,” Cleaver said. 

Kansas Republican Sen. Jerry Moran is a sponsor of the JUSTICE Act. This version doesn’t have widespread support in the House because some believe it lacks meaningful reforms and instead focuses on offering incentives to encourage changes. 

The two bills differ on several key issues including creating a nationwide training standard, banning chokeholds, creating a national police misconduct registry, and ending qualified immunity, which would make it legal to sue an individual officer. 

Republican Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri said police reforms shouldn’t come from the federal government. 

“I think policing is properly accountable to local and state citizens,” Hawley said. “You need to have police be accountable to local folks because that’s how you make sure that you hire good cops and get rid of bad ones. That’s how you make sure that your leadership is actually accountable to local neighborhoods.” 

Cleaver remains hopeful for a bipartisan police reform bill. 

“If we are able to do that, I think it says something to the young people, to the millennials that, yes, government still works and that your expressions last summer were listened to,” he said. 

Cleaver told FOX4 that South Carolina’s Sen. Tim Scott, the original sponsor of the JUSTICE Act, and California’s Rep. Karen Bass, the original sponsor of the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, plan to meet in the coming weeks in hopes of negotiating a “meaningful” reform bill. 

Senator Josh Hawley is sponsoring The David Dorn Back the Blue Act that would give officers pay raises and provide more financial resources to police departments.

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