Biden Admin Puts Plans For National Police Oversight Board On Hold

The Biden administration has tabled a plan to create a national police oversight board and will instead back a controversial police reform bill, despite President Joe Biden making a campaign promise to establish a police oversight commission within the first 100 days of his presidency.

Politico reports that Biden will put the plan “on ice” at the request of both civil rights activists and police union officials.

“Based on close, respectful consultation with partners in the civil rights community, the administration made the considered judgment that a police commission, at this time, would not be the most effective way to deliver on our top priority in this area, which is to sign the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act into law,” senior domestic policy advisor Susan Rice told the outlet.

“Before coming to the decision, the White House said it consulted with national civil rights organizations and police unions,” Politico noted. “Both entities made clear to the administration that they thought a commission was not necessary and likely redundant.”

Instead, Biden’s White House will back the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, a House bill that outlined a number of changes to national police policy and that did not earn support from most Republicans.

“The lengthy bill aims to end qualified immunity, which gives government officials broad protections from lawsuits, such as police brutality cases,” according to PBS. “It would also lower the legal standard required to convict an officer for misconduct, establish a national database to track police misconduct, and provide grants to help states conduct investigations into alleged constitutional abuses by law enforcement.”

The bill demands that state and federal law enforcement officers are equipped with body cameras and police vehicles equipped with dashboard cameras, restricts the transfer of some decommissioned military equipment to local police departments and demands that state and local law enforcement agencies adopt anti-discrimination training, according to the bill’s text.

The bill, though, also greatly restricts the use of chokeholds, prohibits the use of no-knock warrants, and changes the thresholds for both the use of physical force and the use of deadly force — provisions that some experts told PBS could make policing more dangerous.

Republicans largely oppose the bill.

“The Democrats’ bill, known as the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, passed in the House 220-212, with a vote from just one Republican. The same bill was introduced and passed in the House last summer, but died in the then-Republican-controlled Senate,” PBS added.

The change comes just as the debate about police use of force reignited, with new officer-involved shootings near Minneapolis, Minnesota, and in Chicago, Illinois — both of which have prompted protests. In Minneapolis, an officer-involved shooting over the weekend sparked riots reminiscent of those that burned through the city following George Floyd’s death while in the custody of Minneapolis police.

President Biden promised a national police oversight program while on the campaign trail, telling supporters that “we need each and every police department in the country to undertake a comprehensive review of their hiring, their training, and their de-escalation practices,” and pledging to support those changes with federal funds.

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