Police reform bill making its way through congress

Police reform Bill making its way through congress

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - The U.S. Democrat-controlled house has passed its version of the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act and now the President is urging the U.S. Senate to act.

WMC Action News 5 asked Governor Bill Lee Friday his thoughts on the bill.

“Well when you talk about supporting a bill, it depends on what is exactly is in that bill,” said Gov. Lee.

He asked Friday about the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act that is gaining traction after former police officer Derek Chauvin was found guilty in the murder of George Floyd this week.

The lengthy bill includes:

  • Ban of no-knock warrants in federal drug cases and chokeholds,
  • Funding body camera use within local departments.
  • Mandated officer training for discriminatory profiling.

What’s not in place in the George Floyd bill is ending qualified immunity for officers which protects them from many civil lawsuits.

The bill would also lower the threshold for prosecuting officers accused of wrongdoing by lowering the standard from “willfulness” or intentionally and knowing an illegal act was being committed to “recklessness.”

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“Recklessness simply means that the person knows consciously that there is a big risk that what they are doing is crossing the line, but despite being aware of that risk, they proceed anyway and that is still, I think bad conduct but easier for a prosecutor to prove,” said University of Memphis law school professor Steve Mulroy.

Mulroy says without getting rid of the filibuster in the senate he doesn’t think there’s any real chance of getting the entire George Floyd Act as it is currently written to pass.

U.S. House Democrats may have to make some concessions on what will remain in the George Floyd bill.

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Lee said, “We need to hold law enforcement accountable as we support them at the same time.”

Friday, Governor Lee pointed to work already being done by the Law Enforcement Reform Task Force that he assembled in July.

The Tennessee state legislature is also moving its own police reform bill that would ban chokeholds, no-knock warrants and create use of force policies statewide.

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