Congress Tackles Police Reform; Little Agreement On House Panel


House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) says he “will not rest until we make progress” on criminal justice reform, but his first public effort to build consensus degenerated into partisan mudslinging yesterday. Politico says that suggests Goodlatte and reform advocates have a long way to go if they want to find consensus on new police standards or training. The first of several planned hearings on the rising tensions between cops and black communities turned ugly at times, including arguments about the use of the word “ghetto” and whether black-on-black crime should get more attention. “I want us to get to the point where we lament the murder of a black female … at the hand of her abusive husband … just as much as if it was at the hand of a white cop,” said Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC), a former federal prosecutor.

Democrats sought guidance from policing experts about what Congress should do to help and shared personal stories of being stopped by the police. Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke blasted the panel for getting involved in police issues at all, arguing they are a local matter. By contrast, a Senate hearing yesterday was much more sedate. Presidential contender Lindsey Graham (R-SC) held a hearing on body cameras, scheduled at the request of Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC), who's pushing for more federal money for such technology. Senators drilled down into technicalities: when cameras should be turned on and off on the beat, how much they cost to store, when the public could request footage and how the government could be helpful.

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