“I’m not sure we’re ever going to codify in law a use-of-force standard,” Scott said.
Pressure for Washington to address police brutality has risen sharply in the wake of the killing of George Floyd, as protesters nationwide have called for accountability and reform. But consensus remains elusive, as the two parties struggle over how to implement changes and how far the federal government should go in establishing norms.
In a bid to hold individual officers more accountable for their actions, the House Democrats’ proposal includes a provision to change the doctrine of “qualified immunity,” making it easier to sue officers who “recklessly” violate civil rights, whether or not they did so with intent. Scott called that provision a “poison pill” during a Sunday interview on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”
“The president sent the signal that qualified immunity is off the table. They see that as a poison pill on our side,” Scott said. “So we’re going to have to find a path that helps us reduce misconduct within the officers. But at the same time, we know that any poison pill in legislation means we get nothing done.”
He suggested that a “decertification” procedure to weed out bad officers could be an alternative but acknowledged that would probably not satisfy Democrats.
“Decertification would be a path that I would be interested in looking at,” Scott said. “That is a path that has got a roadblock because I don’t have the votes on the other side to make that into law.”
On ABC’s “This Week,” Lankford said the GOP’s “focus is on basic things like transparency, police records, employment records, making sure that future departments can see what’s happening, body cameras” and ensuring that the FBI has access to those records when someone dies in police custody or is seriously injured.
“Right now, about 40 percent of the departments around the country do that,” Lankford said. “We’d like to be able to get that to every department around the country so we increase that transparency.”
He added that better training in de-escalation tactics, recruiting more African American officers and a focus on mental health were also aspects of the GOP’s proposal.
Lawmakers from both parties predicted Sunday that any police reform measure would probably have to go through drawn-out negotiations before becoming law. Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.) said on “Fox News Sunday” that she believed compromise was possible. Appearing on CNN’s “State of the Union,” House Majority Whip James E. Clyburn (D-S.C.) urged patience.
“There’s always potential for compromise,” he said. “Let’s just let both houses do whatever they’re going to do.”