WASHINGTON (Gray DC) -- Calls to defund and dismantle police departments are echoing across the country following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
FILE - In this June 6, 2020, file photo, protesters march in New York. Since Floyd’s killing, police departments have banned chokeholds, Confederate monuments have fallen and officers have been arrested and charged. The moves come amid a massive, nationwide outcry against violence by police and racism. (AP Photo/Ragan Clark, File)
“I don’t know of anyone who thinks we should zero out public safety entirely, “said Christy Lopez, Georgetown Law expert on innovative policing.
Lopez says this dialogue may be alarming to some but, for activists, it’s long overdue as many communities have grown to “over-rely” on police officers.
“It’s impossible for any human to be a mental health worker, a social worker, and investigate a homicide. It makes sense to shift that responsibility to other parts of government and shift resources as well,” said Lopez.
In Washington, it appears lawmakers from both sides of the isle agree general action is needed.
Minnesota Sen. Tina Smith (D-MN) says she does not support defunding or dismantling law enforcement agencies. However, she says she is signing on to the ‘Justice in Policing Act.’ Smith says it’s a bill backed by democrats in both the House and Senate that would create a ban on chokeholds, create a national police misconduct registry, and add some restrictions on the transfer of military grade equipment to local law enforcement.
“It’s designed to get at the deep need we have in Minnesota and around this country for more accountability in police departments and more transparency in police departments,” said Smith.
Senate republicans are also drafting proposals calling for greater accountability for uses of force.
In Southern Minnesota, Rep Jim Hagedorn (R-MN) says he doubts the dialogue will drift into his district.
“We are not talking about Mankato or Rochester police; we’re talking about big cities,” said Hagedorn.
Hagedorn says local governments should take the reins and Congress’s involvement should be minimal.
“I would defer to officers who have protected and served out community. The vast majority have done heroic work,” said Hagedorn.
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