Bipartisan Talks Seeking Federal Police Reform Have Collapsed

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Rep. Karen Bass, Sen. Tim Scott and Sen. Cory Booker. | Drew Angerer/Getty Images

By David M. Greenwald
Executive Editor

Washington, DC – Politico is reporting that bipartisan police reform talks have collapsed, even as Senators Tim Scott and Cory Booker along with California Representative Karen Bass have attempted to slim down the legislation by removing qualified immunity reform from consideration.

Bass last night in a tweet called on President Biden to use his executive powers to bring about “meaningful police reform.”

“We made it clear from the beginning of our negotiations that a bill must ensure true accountability, transparency, and the policing standards necessary to bring an end to horrific incidents of violence Americans are routinely seeing—like the murder of George Floyd,” Senator Booker said in a press statement Wednesday.

He added, “After months of exhausting every possible pathway to a bipartisan deal, it remains out of reach right now, even after working collaboratively with and securing the support of policing groups like the Fraternal Order of Police and International Association of Chiefs of Police for our proposals.”

Representative Bass expressed similar frustrations,

“More than 200 days ago, the House of Representatives passed the most comprehensive piece of police reform legislation ever considered by the United States Congress,” Bass said in a statement released to the media last night.  “Since then, communities across the nation have called on the Senate to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act.”

Senator Scott put the blame on Democrats, claiming that they walked away from the talks and rejected the idea of a compromise bill.

“After months of making progress, I am deeply disappointed that Democrats have once again squandered a crucial opportunity to implement meaningful reform to make our neighborhoods safer and mend the tenuous relationship between law enforcement and communities of color,” Scott said. “Crime will continue to increase while safety decreases, and more officers are going to walk away from the force because my negotiating partners walked away from the table.”

On the other hand, Bass, the lead House Democrat negotiator, put the blame on police unions for the failure.

“Our sense of urgency remains, but this issue requires a re-engagement of the legislative process,” she said.  “With our counterparts unwilling to come to a compromise, we have no other option than to explore further avenues to stop police brutality in this country.  I will not ask our community to wait another 200 days.”

She thanked the Biden administration for his order last week which supported their efforts by imposing strict limitations on when federal officers can use chokeholds and “no-knock warrants.”

But such limitations would potentially expire with a new administration taking power.

Senator Booker added, “Unfortunately, even with this law enforcement support and further compromises we offered, there was still too wide a gulf with our negotiating partners and we faced significant obstacles to securing a bipartisan deal.”

Both Booker and Bass see a glaring need for reform.

“America has a serious problem when it comes to discriminatory policing and excessive and deadly force used against communities of color,” Booker said.  “We can’t properly honor the lives of the victims of this violence if we don’t take meaningful steps to prevent future violence and deaths from occurring and make our communities safer.”

He added, “The time has come to explore all other options to achieve meaningful and common sense policing reform. I will not stop fighting until we achieve change that keeps our communities and police officers safe.”

Bass noted that the House has already passed “the most comprehensive piece of police reform legislation ever considered by the United States Congress.”

She said, “Galvanized by the voices of historic protests taking place in every corner of the nation and in many countries around the world, we sought to act boldly and finally address long-simmering concerns of communities who fear the very people who are supposed to protect them—reforms that would bring transparency to policing; reforms that would hold abusive police officers accountable and enhance the profession of policing; reforms that would demilitarize police in our communities and make them guardians of public safety.”

Experts believe that the failure of negotiations “almost certainly” closes the door for sweeping reform with this Congress.

Bass said, “I now call on President Biden and the White House to use the full extent of their constitutionally-mandated power to bring about meaningful police reform.”

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About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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