WASHINGTON D.C. — On Capitol Hill, lawmakers from both parties say they agree with the public cries for police reform.
“Too many Americans see law enforcement officers as individuals to be feared,” Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., said.
Thune said Republicans are listening, and the Senate plans to vote on the Justice Act next week.
The bill would offer police federal grants as incentives to use de-escalation techniques rather than deadly force and gives agenices money for body cameras and data storage. Thune said the bill would also ensure the FBI receives full and accurate data on use of force incidents.
“Right now, the FBI national use of force data collection only receives data on about 40% of law enforcement officers,” Thune said.
That’s key for the author of the bill, Senator Tim Scott.
“Figuring out how to hold on to that information so that the next agency is aware of the officers past,” Scott said.
The bill will be a hard sell for Democrats, who have said the Republican plan is just the status quo wrapped up in new packaging.
“Just a complete charade,” Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., said. “That is not a national database.”
Merkley said the Republican plan will continue to allow local governments to ignore or cover up police misconduct.
“It is not transparent. It is not open to the public,” Merkley said.
He said the Republican police reform bill, as is, fails to address police discrimination and systemic racism.
Democrats said they’ll try to make changes to the bill when it heads to the Senate floor.