Lone black Republican senator says he is open to 'decertification' of bad police
By Sarah N. Lynch and Doina Chiacu
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Tim Scott, the only black Republican member of the U.S. Senate, said Sunday he was open to considering whether to enact a new law that would certify bad cops as part of a larger law enforcement reform package.
Scott spoke about CBS's "Face the Nation" and said a new policy to decertify misconduct committed by misconduct could be a compromise when negotiating with Democrats who called for more drastic measures, such as ending "legal immunity" have helped protect officers from liability.
The idea of decertifying malpractice officers was promoted by civil rights groups such as the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and would include the creation of a national database to ensure that problematic officers are not allowed to move from department to department.
Scott acknowledged that implementation of decertification standards could be a tough struggle due to opposition from police unions, but said the proposal was still under discussion.
In response to public outrage over high-profile police killings of African Americans, including George Floyd, who died after a white policeman knelt on the back of his neck, Democrats and Republicans in Washington have put together their own versions of police reform laws.
"I think there's a way for us to deal with it," Scott said on CBS. "Decertification would be one way I would like to consider."
Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell hired Scott last week to oversee Republican efforts to be announced this week.
Floyd's death on May 25 has led to nationwide protests and rallies in countries around the world. Demonstrators have called for changes to the law to combat racial injustices and to make the police more accountable.
"CHOKEHOLDS SHOULD BE PROHIBITED"
In the latest case, which caused trouble among activists, protesters blocked a main street in Atlanta on Saturday and burned down a Wendy restaurant where a black man was shot by the police when trying to escape the arrest.
Democrats who control the U.S. House of Representatives presented their own bill last week to allow victims of police misconduct to sue officials for damages, to ban chokeholds, to require federal law enforcement officers to use body cameras, and to use them limit deadly violence.
On Sunday, Scott said the Republican Party viewed the elimination of qualified immunity as a "poison pill", but was nevertheless optimistic that a compromise could be reached in many other areas.
He said his proposal would have several pillars of reform, including an obligation for police authorities to provide the Justice Department with more data on excessive use of violence, mandatory de-escalation training, and provisions to combat police misconduct.
"If we could bring these three together," said Scott, "we could actually save hundreds of lives and improve the relationship between the color community and the law enforcement community."
Despite disagreements over qualified immunity, there appears to be a growing bipartisan consensus on limiting the use of chokeholds, a maneuver that also led to the death of Eric Garner by a white cop in New York City.
"I think chokeholds should be banned," Republican Senator James Lankford of Oklahoma told CNN's State of the Union.
Lankford said the Republican Reform Law will be presented on Wednesday.
Scott said on NBC's "Meet the Press" that he hadn't decided whether to support the Democrats' proposal to ban "no-knock warrants" as the police used to violently do in Louisville, Kentucky Paramedic Breonna Taylor's home to invade. then who was shot. The police had been looking for someone else.
"There is no current database on No-Knocks. We do not know when it is used, who it is used against. We do not know the breed, gender and age," said Scott. "We don't know anything about no-knocks except for the situation in Breonna Taylor, which was tragic without question."
(Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch and Doina Chiacu; editing by Daniel Wallis and Bill Berkrot)
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