Senate Democrats Block Republican Police Reform Bill

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    On Wednesday, Senate Democrats rejected a Republican police reform bill in a 55-45 vote. A Democratic letter from early last week explained that the bill didn’t go far enough to ensure accountability in policing. “This bill is not salvageable and we need bipartisan talks to get to a constructive starting point,” said the letter.

    The Republican bill aimed to encourage police departments to change their practices. To accomplish the goal, the bill encouraged departments to require body cameras and to limit the use of choke holds. But, the bill did not add new rules limiting the use of lethal force and did not change the qualified immunity doctrine that shields officers from lawsuits.

    In contrast, the House of Representatives passed a Democratic police reform bill on Thursday. The bill passed 236-181, largely along party lines. Though, three Republicans crossed party lines to vote for it.

    The Democratic House bill is titled “The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act.” It would hold police officers personally liable for damages in lawsuits, bans no-knock warrants often used by police in drug raids and ends the flow of federal military surplus equipment to local police departments.

    President Trump has threatened to veto the bill. The two parties are struggling to find a mutually acceptable solution to police brutality in the US.

    Compared to other comparable nations, and in spite of tough policing practices, the US has relatively high levels of violent crime. For this reason, many reformists feel that a softer approach to crime issues might actually make America safer.