In the Reform Movement, Some Republican States Give Police More Power Portland Tennessee Parliament Ohio Arizona

After a year of protests against police atrocities, some Republican-controlled states ignored or blocked police reform proposals, instead empowering police officers more and making it harder to discipline them. It moved in the opposite direction by expanding its crackdown authority. demonstration.

Sponsor Republican Measures were taken in the wake of a national protest after George Floyd’s death, citing the turmoil and destruction that spread to major US cities last summer. Portland New York and Minneapolis where Floyd died in the hands of an officer.

“When it comes to mob violence, we need to strengthen the law to clearly discourage individuals from using violence when they are in large groups.” Florida Republican Parliamentarian Juan Fernandez Birkin said at a hearing on the riot prevention bill passed in April.

Florida is one of the few states to both expand police and pass reforms this year. Another bill awaiting action by the governor requires additional force use training, allowing police to intervene if another bill uses excessive force.

Arizona was one of the states that lawmakers opposed the police reform movement. Iowa According to the Associated Press law review, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Wyoming.

Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds signed a bill on Thursday to increase penalties for protesters, including expanding the limited immunity of police officers and promoting riots to felony.

“This is to provide them with the tools they need to protect law enforcement and keep the community safe, and to show them that we have their backs,” said the bill’s supporters. Parliamentarian Jarad Klein said.

The bill passed a GOP-controlled parliament, despite Republican governors and GOP legislative leaders promising to end discriminatory police action and adopt other criminal justice reforms. ..

At the beginning of the 2021 session, Reynolds banned police racial profiling and introduced measures to establish a system for tracking racial data about police stops. Both ideas were recommended by the Task Force appointed by the Governor in November 2019.

Instead, Republican lawmakers skipped those proposals and pushed for new bills.

Reynolds admitted that even from his party, he doesn’t always get what he wants. She plans to reintroduce the measure next year, a spokesman said.

Reform proponents have found disappointment with the swift reversal by Iowa Republicans.

“Is it too difficult to do the right thing?” Democrat Ras Smith asked during a floor debate over the bill. “You have decided to do this either-or to trample your freedom and to show support for law enforcement in a way they didn’t even ask for.”

After Floyd’s death, Democrats Oklahoma passed a bill banning the use of strangler figs, provided uniform guidance to body cameras, and sought to seize protests creating a database of police use of force cases. .. However, none of those proposals were heard. One Republican lawmaker called them unnecessary after the measure faced opposition from general police, prosecutors, and county sheriffs.

Instead, the Republican-controlled State Capitol will immunize drivers who have striked and injured protesters on public roads, and for stalking or harassment, law enforcement officers’ “docsing” or personal identification information. We have passed a law to prevent disclosure. Or threaten officers.

“I was a little disappointed because these were just means of accountability,” said Democratic Congressman Monroe Nichols, whose father and uncle were police officers.

In Wyoming, Democrat Karlee Provenza has submitted a bill to prevent illegally dismissed police officers from being hired by another law enforcement agency. Her bill passed the House of Representatives, but failed in the Senate, which is governed by the Republican Party.

“The conversation is’this is an anti-police bill’, not’this is an accountability bill’, it has steep hills to climb,” Provenza said.

Byron Edekoven, secretary-general and police chief of the Wyoming Sheriffs Association, said the measure was not necessary. He said law enforcement has already scrutinized police officers, including complying with the adoption criteria of state law and voluntarily reporting revoked police officers in national databases.

While cities across the United States are creating or expanding private police oversight committees, Republican governors in Tennessee and Arizona have signed legislation that could reduce the independence of these committees. Republican law requires board members to complete hours of police training or to have a majority of board positions filled with sworn officers. Critics say such steps defeat the purpose of civilian surveillance.

The review committee aimed to address concerns that police stations have little oversight outside the internal review system, especially in the black community.

“There are all the pitfalls that make a fox look like a poultry house here,” said Senator Kirsten Engel, a Democrat in Arizona, about the state’s actions.

Some states continue to introduce legislation to protect police, including recent proposals in Ohio and Kentucky that criminalize the abuse and filming of police officers. However, about half of the states have adopted at least some reform measures.

At least 67 police reforms have been legislated in 25 states since May 2020, according to the National Assembly of State Legislatures. These laws, among other reforms, dealt with neck restraints and strangler figs, body cameras, disciplinary and personnel records, and independent investigations.

According to NCSL data, at least 13 states have enacted restrictions on the use of force, and at least eight states have enacted legislation to enhance police reviews and investigations.

Minnesota banned strangler figs. Colorado is the first state in the country to have been stripped of limited immunity from police. Washington has enacted dozens of police reform legislation, including limiting the use of knock ban warrants and appointing independent investigators for deadly police shootings. Even Republican-controlled Texas, where Floyd’s body rested, implemented more uniform disciplinary action against the illegal activity of officers.

Some Democrats in Republican-controlled states are discouraged by their quest to change the judicial system.

“We ran into so many obstacles,” said Democratic South Dakota Parliamentarian Linda Duba, who was part of a coalition to pass the reforms.

Given Floyd’s death, there seemed to be momentum to reassess the role of police in the minority community, Duva said, but the problem steadily calcified along the political line.

“It’s happening slowly because we live in a state where people aren’t exposed to it, don’t believe it will happen, or believe that criticizing law enforcement isn’t patriotic.” She said.


Acacia Coronado, Associated Press writer in Austin, Texas. Brendan Farrington in Tallahassee, Florida. Stephen Grove in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Jonathan Mathis in Nashville, Tennessee. Sean Murphy of Oklahoma City; David Pitt of Des Moines, Iowa; Colleen Slevin of Denver contributed to this report.


Farnoush Amiri is a corps member of the Associated Press / Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a non-profit national service program that places journalists in the local newsroom to report on unreported issues.

In the Reform Movement, Some Republican States Give Police More Power Portland Tennessee Parliament Ohio Arizona

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