WASHINGTON (AP) – As congressional legislators work on one of the most ambitious police overhauls in decades, there is an increasing divide between Republicans and Democrats about how to achieve a common goal.
Top Democratic leaders in the Senate said on Tuesday that a Republican police proposal “cannot be saved” and demanded renegotiation of a two-pronged legislative package following protests over racial inequality and the death of George Floyd and others through the police.
They want something similar to a sweeping proposal from House Democrats – the Justice in Policing Act – that would create a national database of excessive violence encounters, limit legal protections for the police, and ban the police chokeholds. The bill is expected to pass the House later this week.
The Republican proposal in the Senate calls for an improved database of the use of force, restrictions on chokeholds, and new committees to study law enforcement and race. Senate Republicans say it would limit the role of the federal government and still make significant changes to the police.
It remains to be seen whether the parties can bridge their differences.
Here are the two competing proposals:
POLICE Misconduct & USE DATA BANK
Many officers who end up in fatal incidents have a history of wrongdoing, including Derek Chauvin, the Minneapolis officer charged with murder in Floyd’s death. According to reports, he had filed at least a dozen complaints against him.
But those records are often not made public, making it difficult to know whether officers have such a record.
President Donald Trump signed an executive order earlier this month requiring the Attorney General to compile a database of terminations, criminal convictions, and civil suits against law enforcement officers for excessive use of force. It encourages participation by providing certain grants only to the agencies providing the required information.
– Bill for Democrats: calls for a national register of complaints, disciplinary and termination details. It also requires states to report any incident involving violence against a civilian or a law enforcement officer to the Department of Justice. The proposal would require the agencies to report the reason for the use of the force and the national origin, gender, race, ethnicity, age, disability, English proficiency and housing status of any citizen who has been abused by a law enforcement officer.
– Republicans bill: would require the state and local authorities to report annually to the FBI all cases of violent abuse that result in serious injury or death. Municipalities that do not comply may see a reduction in federal funding.
There is a notable difference. The Democrats bill would specifically ban the use of chokeholds and carotid arteries at the federal level, while the Republican bill prompts police to ban the practice through grants. Trump’s executive also encourages such bans through financial incentives.
– Democrats bill: would ban chokeholds and carotid arteries and make law enforcement funding for state and local law enforcement agencies conditional on the adoption of a law prohibiting the use of chokeholds and carotid arteries.
– Republican Bill: Would make some Justice Department funds dependent on a police force that has a specific policy that restricts the use of chokeholds, except in situations where deadly violence is permitted.
NO KNOW GUARANTEES
Since 26-year-old Breonna Taylor was murdered by officers at her home in Louisville, Kentucky in March, there has been an increasing call for a ban on banned warrants. Democrats have proposed a ban on the practice, which is typically carried out in some of the most dangerous police investigations. A ban on knocking, as the name implies, is an order from a judge that allows the police to enter a house without ringing the bell or banging on the door. Critics have said that usage has increased dramatically and that some departments use them routinely in cases that do not deserve such an exception.
Democrats Bill: Would specifically ban prohibitions on all federal drug cases and require local and national law enforcement agencies to ban their use in order to qualify for any federal funding. Oregon and Florida are the only states that have banned such warrants.
– Republicans bill: GOP senators argue that there is no conclusive data on how, why and how often search warrants are used and have proposed requiring the state and local law enforcement agencies to report specific data to the Department of Justice each year. The agency should then publish a public report.
FEDERAL CIVIL LAW
– Democrats bill: would amend the federal civil rights law that regulates police misconduct so that prosecutors no longer have to prove that an officer’s actions are intentional, a high burden of proof. The law would allow an officer to be charged with reckless neglect of someone’s life, causing that person to die.
– Republican bill: Would not change that part of the law.
Police officers are generally not held personally responsible for anything that happens on the job, even if someone dies. The concept of qualified immunity has long been a way of protecting the police from unnecessary lawsuits and giving them the freedom to warn the police without fear of unnecessary retribution.
– Democrats Bill: Would amend the statutes of federal misconduct to make it easier for courts to hold officials personally liable for violations of civil rights. Officers may think twice before they abuse their power, but it can make it more difficult to recruit the police nationwide. It can also lead to officials being held financially liable.
– Republican bill: They say this is a step too far. Alternatively, the bill’s chief senator, Tim Scott of South Carolina, has proposed a “decertification process” for officers involved in misconduct.
The President’s executive order instructs the Department of Justice to force local police to become certified. Under the order, Justice would ensure that a department can only be licensed if the use of force policies is in accordance with federal, state, and local laws.
White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany has said that the qualified immunity provision in the House Democrats bill is “a total and complete non-starter.”
Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or distributed without permission.