WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Tim Scott, the only black Republican member of the U.S. Senate, said on Sunday he is open to exploring whether to enact a new law that would decertify bad police officers as part of a larger law enforcement reform package.
FILE PHOTO: U.S. Senator Tim Scott (R-SC) speaks during a Senate Small Business Committee hearing on coronavirus relief aid and “Implementation of title I of the CARES Act.”, in Washington, U.S., June 10, 2020. Al Drago/File Photo
Speaking on CBS “Face the Nation,” Scott said a new policy to decertify police who engage in misconduct could be a compromise as he negotiates with Democrats, who have called more drastic measures such as ending the “qualified immunity” legal doctrine which helps shield officers from liability.
“I think there’s a way for us to deal with it,” he said.
“Decertification would be a path that I would be interested in looking at.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell last week tapped Scott to oversee the drafting of new policing reform legislation in response to public outrage over high profile police killings of African Americans including George Floyd, who died after a white police officer knelt on his neck.
Floyd’s death has led to protests in cities and smaller communities nationwide, as well as rallies in countries around the world, with demonstrators demanding legislative change to combat racial injustice and hold police more accountable.
In the latest case to trigger anger among activists, protesters shut down a major highway in Atlanta on Saturday and burned down a Wendy’s restaurant where a black man was shot dead by police as he tried to escape arrest.
Democrats who control the U.S. House of Representatives unveiled their own draft legislation last week which would allow victims of police misconduct to sue officers for damages, ban chokeholds, require the use of body cameras by federal law enforcement officers, and restrict the use of lethal force.
Scott is due to unveil his own draft this week.
On Sunday he said the Republican party viewed eliminating qualified immunity as a “poison pill” but he still felt optimistic that a compromise could be reached.
He also cited other areas of reform he is considering, including requiring police departments to provide the Justice Department with more data on excessive use of force, mandated de-escalation training and provisions to deal with police misconduct.
“If we could blend those three together, we might actually save hundreds of lives and improve the relationship between the communities of color and the law enforcement community.”
Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch; Editing by Daniel Wallis