From left to right, Representative Karen Bass, D-Cal., Senator Tim Scott, RC, Senator Cory Booker, DNJ and Representative Josh Gottheimer, DNJ, speak to reporters at Statue Hall in the United States Capitol after their police reform meeting on Tuesday, May 18, 2021.
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Police reform talks in Congress have collapsed as lawmakers were unable to strike a bipartisan deal despite the loudest calls in years to end law enforcement violence against black Americans.
“After months of exhausting all possible avenues to a bipartisan agreement, it is still a matter of working closely with police groups such as the Fraternal Police Order and the International Association of Chiefs of Police and Police. gain support for our proposals. Cory Booker, a Democrat from New Jersey who has been involved in the reform talks for months, said in a statement.
“Unfortunately, even with this support for law enforcement and the other agreements we have proposed, there was still a very large gap with our negotiating partners and we encountered significant obstacles in concluding a bipartite agreement,” he said. he continued. preserved.
The failed talks ended the last major effort to change federal policing standards, which had a chance to pass through Congress with support from both sides. It is now unclear whether lawmakers can push for another nationwide reform effort after more than a year of police murders of black Americans, including George Floyd and Breonna Taylor.
Booker said he would “explore all other options” to push through changes to police standards. Unless Democrats clear the legislative obstruction, they would need more than 10 Republicans to win to pass legislation in an equally divided Senate.
In a separate statement, negotiating representative Karen Bass, D-Calif., Lamented the talks collapsed and called on the Biden administration to “make full use of its constitutionally mandated power to carry out police reform. “. He highlighted the Justice Department’s decision this month to allow federal officials to use strangles and “no knock” warrants, which allow officers to enter residences without declaring themselves.
GOP chief negotiator Senator Tim Scott, spokesperson for the RSC, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The Democrat-held House passed two versions of a similar police reform bill last year, then passed it again in May. It would have banned cervical braces and limited qualified immunity at the federal level, giving officers broad protections against civil liability.
The law – and a choice proposed by Republicans – never made its way to the Senate. The dispute over qualified immunity has complicated bipartisan reform talks.
In a statement responding to the end of negotiations, NAACP Chairman and CEO Derrick Johnson said that “after a year like no other,” the police unions and “partisan politicians have chosen to stand on the wrong side of history ”. “
Johnson continued, “They have decided to stand by those who killed the very people they are meant to protect and serve.” “It is disappointing that there is a lack of courage and bravery to bring about real reform. But one thing is clear, the fight for police reform is not over. This will remain a top priority for us as innocent lives are at stake. ”
Despite the absence of federal law, several major cities have banned practices such as strangling and no-strike warrants. Many activists say these measures do not go far enough and call for a complete overhaul of public safety.
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