- Legislation passed by the House would have ended “qualified immunity” for members of law enforcement.
- The measure would have also created a national database of police misconduct.
- Efforts to pass a companion bill in the Senate collapsed after months of negotiations.
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Groups that represent more than 350,000 members of law enforcement are pushing back on a GOP senator’s claim that efforts to forge a bipartisan compromise on police reform legislation collapsed because Democrats were seeking to “defund” law enforcement.
In an interview with CBS News over the weekend, Sen. Tim Scott, a Republican from South Carolina, said negotiations on a police reform bill in the Senate fell apart because members did not want to “participate in reducing funding for the police after we saw a major city after major city defund the police.”
But in a joint statement issued Tuesday, the Fraternal Order of Police and the International Association of Chiefs of Police said such claims were untrue.
Saying they were “disappointed” that negotiations fell apart, the groups said that, “at no point did any legislative draft propose ‘defunding the police.'” In fact, “the legislation specifically provided additional funding to assist law enforcement agencies in training, agency accreditation, and data collection initiatives.”
Scott’s office did not respond to a request for comment.
Legislation passed by the Democratic-controlled House following the May 2020 police murder of George Floyd would have banned chokeholds and abolished “qualified immunity” for law enforcement, making it easier to hold officers and their departments financially responsible for wrongdoing. Under the status quo, members of law enforcement are generally shielded from lawsuits over actions they took on the job as public servants.
The measure would also have established a national registry of police misconduct, making it more difficult for problematic officers to find employment after being forced out of a department elsewhere.
Republicans and police alike had objected to the language on qualified immunity, with Sen. Cory Booker, a Democrat from New Jersey, proposing instead to increase federal prosecutors’ ability to prosecute police wrongdoing, The Wall Street Journal reported.
In their statement, the nation’s leading police groups said the reforms that had been under consideration “would have strengthened the law enforcement profession.”
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