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Congressional Black Caucus working on police reforms as Black Lives Matter demands action

Congressional Black Caucus working police reforms as Black Lives Matter movement demands action
Posted at 10:59 AM, Jun 03, 2020

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Congressional Black Caucus is working on a package of police reforms as the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement demands action in response to the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

It's still in the early stages, but some of the proposals circulating include a federal chokehold ban, a review of police training standards, and changes to the doctrine that protects officers from legal liabilities.

These reforms only breach the surface of the demands from the BLM movement, which is calling for the national defunding of police, demanding investment in African American communities, and asking for resources to ensure black people can not only survive, but thrive.

“We call for an end to the systemic racism that allows this culture of corruption to go unchecked and our lives to be take,” wrote BLM in a petition.

BLM is also demanding that the black community’s pain and injustice be acknowledged, and that those responsible for officer-involved killings be held accountable.

A professor of criminal justice tells us there may be some pushback from local governments or law enforcement regarding federal oversight or action taken as a result of the BLM movement.

“I know the citizens in my community. I know the officers in my community. I know the problems happening in my community, so why would you come in and try to think that you know more than me,” said Kevin Smith, a professor of criminal justice at Metropolitan State University of Denver. “I could see that being a pushback with most officers and most sheriff’s departments and most police chiefs saying ‘hey, this is my jurisdiction.’”

Following unrest in 2014 over the deaths of Michael Brown, Eric garner and Tamir Rice, about two dozen local governments took it upon themselves to pass police reforms. However, many avoided the subject of police use-of-force.

Smith says it takes this kind of national outcry for the federal government to decide it needs to step in. He points to a case in Oakland years ago where officers were indicted for involvement in a prostitution ring.

The federal government ended up overseeing the department for several years to make reforms.

“In this case, with George Floyd, now the federal government's looking at this case, saying this case could be a civil rights violation,” said Smith.

Smith says once the federal government gets involved, it's very difficult to get them to back off. So, the continued protests and media attention may be a big step towards some serious reform.