House Republican leaders are creating a congressional task force on law enforcement practices after the Baltimore and Ferguson riots, Politico reports. House Republican Conference Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) and Republican Policy Chairman Luke Messer (R-IN) are working with Rep. Dave Reichert (R-WA), a former cop who nabbed an infamous serial killer, to set up a panel of lawmakers to examine the racial tensions between cops and black communities, and develop steps that can be taken fix the problem. GOP leaders moved yesterday to provide more money for police salaries as part of an appropriations bill set to hit the floor this week.
The money is an effort to mollify police unions who were upset by plans to add funding for body cameras while zeroing out the salary account. In their $51 billion spending bill for the Commerce and Justice departments, House appropriators allotted $50 million for a new “community trust initiative” to fund body cameras, new use-of-force statistics gathering and training. The Fraternal Order of Police, the largest cop union, accused them of “robbing Peter to pay Paul.” Appropriators had eliminated more than $100 million they typically appropriate to police departments for hiring and retention practices under the Community Oriented Police Services (COPS) program. The union balked, arguing that sacrificing one pot of money for the other is unhelpful.