President Trump will soon have a list of police reform proposals that can be accomplished through a combination of executive and legislative action — and that effort could have some crossover with Democratic proposals, multiple sources told Fox News on Tuesday.
Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., is taking the lead on the legislative side, Fox News is told. White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, senior adviser Jared Kushner, and domestic policy adviser Ja’Ron Smith are on Capitol Hill meeting with Scott.
The potential executive actions would be taken at the Justice Department, and would be executed in conjunction with law enforcement and community leaders.
The priority of the proposals will be on putting in place protections for communities, but not tying the hands of the police, Fox News is told.
Trump met with law enforcement leaders who gave him some proposals for possible reforms on Monday, in the wake of the in-custody death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Four ex-officers have been charged in Floyd’s death, which touched off nationwide protests, looting, and violence, including the burning of the St. John’s Church just steps from the White House.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department officers begin to move forward through tear gas during a protest, Saturday, May 30, 2020, in Charlotte, N.C., as people nationwide protested the Memorial Day death of George Floyd, who died in police custody in Minneapolis. (Jeff Siner/The Charlotte Observer via AP)
White House officials also responded to criticisms that Trump should deliver a national address concerning police reforms, telling Fox News that it’s Trump’s position that “actions speak louder than words,” and that he has spent the time working up policy rather than writing speeches.
A timeline is not yet available concerning the proposals, but an announcement later this week is on the table.
Speaking to Fox News’ Bret Baier on Monday, Attorney General Bill Barr indicated that the federal government should help set standards that abolish the use of police chokeholds and similar techniques. After kneeling for several minutes, top Democrats on Monday introduced a sweeping criminal justice reform bill, which includes a limitation on police officers’ qualified immunity to certain forms of lawsuits for misconduct on the job.
Critics say qualified immunity, a judge-made doctrine, is necessary to protect police from complaints that would punish officers for reasonably executing their duties in stressful situations, or complaints intended to harass officers. Democrats charge, however, that qualified immunity is a shield for bad behavior and has enabled a culture of misconduct.
The “Justice in Policing Act of 2020” would also establish a registry of police misconduct, and would specifically allow officers to be punished for violating constitutional rights “knowingly or with reckless disregard.” The federal standard currently requires that officers “willfully” violate constitutional rights to face prosecution — a significantly higher standard of proof.
Further, the federal standard for use of force would change from “reasonableness” to situations where it is “necessary to prevent death or serious bodily injury.”
However, Trump, Barr, and a slew of Republican attorneys general have made clear they oppose Democrats’ efforts to defund police departments. On Monday, the president of Minneapolis’ City Council told CNN that people worried about having no one to call during a home invasion were speaking from a “place of privilege.” Those comments drew widespread backlash.
Joe Biden, Trump’s chief rival for the presidency, has said through a spokesperson that he does not support defunding the police. However, the former vice president wrote in an op-ed that he would create a “national police oversight commission within 100 days of taking office.”
FILE – In this June 6, 2020, file photo, protesters march in New York. Since Floyd’s killing, police departments have banned chokeholds, Confederate monuments have fallen and officers have been arrested and charged. The moves come amid a massive, nationwide outcry against violence by police and racism. (AP Photo/Ragan Clark, File)
Should police be defunded, Barr told Baier, “You would have increases in vigilantism and increases in chaos in the city.” Barr added it’s “been shown” that more killings would result.
Research by Harvard economist Roland G. Fryer Jr. has determined that when police pull out of communities, black deaths tend to increase. Frey also found no evidence of racial bias in police shootings; other commentators have argued that police incompetence and corruption, rather than racial bias, could explain violent police encounters.
“We saw the police department arrest less during a period of high crime,” the Rev. Kinji Scott, a community activist “who lost a brother and a cousin to homicides in other cities,” told Jilani. “So what happened is you have a community of emboldened criminals.”
Earlier in the week, audio surfaced showing distraught Chicago officials complaining to Mayor Lori Lightfoot — as looting and rioting in response to Floyd’s death swept through the Windy City — pleading for help and warning that the vulnerable had lost access to food and medicine.
According to a tape obtained by WTTW News of an online conference call among the city’s 50 aldermen and the mayor, one alderman could be heard weeping while others angrily decried what was going on in the city.
“My ward is a s–t show,” one alderman says. “They are shooting at the police.”
One alderman asked how seniors and vulnerable populations were supposed to get medicine and food if “every CVS, every Walgreens is shutting down.”
“How do businesses recover and why would they want to recover in our community?” another is heard asking.
Lightfoot herself recognized what she described as a “massive, massive problem.” Earlier she described rioters as just f—–g lawless right now.”
“I don’t know about you, but I haven’t seen s–t like this before, not in Chicago,” Lightfoot said.
It’s a sign of just how shocked and overwhelmed city officials across the country were by the rioting. Many cities imposed curfews in response, which eventually helped reduce the outbreaks of crime. Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker, on Lightfoot’s request, called in the National Guard to help deal with the crisis.
On the call, others took aim at Lightfoot herself for her response to the crisis. One man, identified by WTTW News as Ald. Raymond Lopez, demanded that Lightfoot develop a plan to stabilize Chicago’s neighborhoods for five days, calling his Southwest Side ward “a virtual war zone” where armed gang members were threatening to shoot black people.
When he demanded she respond to the remarks, Lightfoot told him he was “100 percent full of s–t.”
“Well, f–k you then,” Lopez responded.
Chicago recorded 18 murders on May 31, making it the city’s deadliest day in 60 years.
Fox News’ Adam Shaw and Brooke Singman contributed to this report.