Po­lice re­form

Six Va. Democrats sign on to fed­eral mea­sure.

Richmond Times-Dispatch - - FRONT PAGE - BY MEL LEONOR Rich­mond Times-Dis­patch mleonor@timesdis­patch.com (804) 649-6254 Twit­ter: @MelLeonor_ In­for­ma­tion from The As­so­ci­ated Press was in­cluded in this re­port.

A broad swath of Democrats in Vir­ginia’s con­gres­sional del­e­ga­tion is back­ing a sweep­ing po­lice re­form bill prompted by na­tion­wide protests against po­lice bru­tal­ity and racism in the crim­i­nal jus­tice sys­tem.

The Jus­tice in Polic­ing Act un­veiled Mon­day would limit le­gal pro­tec­tions for po­lice in the case of mis­con­duct, cre­ate a na­tional data­base of useof-force in­ci­dents, and ban the use of choke­holds by po­lice, among other mea­sures. It would not abol­ish po­lice de­part­ments, as some pro­test­ers and civil rights groups have de­manded.

Its chief spon­sors are Rep. Karen Bass of Cal­i­for­nia, head of the Con­gres­sional Black Cau­cus; Rep. Jer­rold Nadler of New York, chair­man of the House Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee; and Sens. Cory Booker of New Jersey and Ka­mala Har­ris of Cal­i­for­nia.

In Vir­ginia, the leg­is­la­tion is backed by Reps. Don Beyer, D-8th; Gerry Con­nolly, D-11th; Don McEachin, D-4th, who rep­re­sents Rich­mond; and, Bobby Scott, D-3rd. Both of Vir­ginia’s se­na­tors, Democrats Tim Kaine and Mark Warner, have also signed onto the bill.

McEachin said in a state­ment: “We can and must reimag­ine pub­lic safety in Amer­ica to make our polic­ing sys­tems safer for cit­i­zens and hold po­lice of­fi­cers ac­count­able to the com­mu­ni­ties they serve, be­gin­ning with en­sur­ing that the com­mon-sense poli­cies in­cluded in the Jus­tice in Polic­ing Act are adopted by po­lice de­part­ments across the coun­try.”

Kaine, a former Rich­mond mayor and Vir­ginia gov­er­nor, said in a call with re­porters: “As a mayor who worked in­ti­mately with a po­lice force, and a gov­er­nor who worked closely with the Vir­ginia State Po­lice, I know the good, but I also know the many, many se­ri­ous chal­lenges that have to be ad­dressed to pro­mote mean­ing­ful re­form.”

Democrats in the Vir­ginia con­gres­sional del­e­ga­tion who have not signed on to the bill are Reps. Abi­gail Span­berger, D-7th; Elaine Luria, D-2nd; and Jen­nifer Wex­ton, D-10th.

Span­berger, who rep­re­sents a swath of the Rich­mond sub­urbs and is an­tic­i­pated to face a heated re-elec­tion fight this Novem­ber, is re­view­ing the bill and gath­er­ing com­mu­nity in­put, ac­cord­ing to a spokesman.

No Repub­li­cans in Vir­ginia’s del­e­ga­tion, or oth­er­wise, have signed on to the bill.

The leg­is­la­tion would lower the stan­dard used to pros­e­cute po­lice mis­con­duct from “will­ful” to “reck­less.” It would also call on po­lice de­part­ments to use ex­ist­ing fed­eral fund­ing to en­sure of­fi­cers have and use body-worn cam­eras, among other pro­vi­sions.

Pas­sage of the leg­is­la­tion in the GOP-con­trolled Se­nate is un­likely. Se­nate Ma­jor­ity Leader Mitch McCon­nell,

R-Ky., said he is con­sid­er­ing leg­is­la­tion that would em­anate from the GOP in the Se­nate.

Also Tues­day, Kaine said he is back­ing a bill from Booker call­ing for a study of repa­ra­tions to African Amer­i­cans for the on­go­ing legacy of slav­ery.

Kaine told re­porters Tues­day that af­ter slav­ery was abol­ished in the U.S., gov­ern­ments were “never held ac­count­able” for the long­stand­ing prac­tice with multi­gen­er­a­tional im­pact.

Last week, Kaine also an­nounced he would urge his col­leagues on the Se­nate Armed Ser­vices Com­mit­tee to block the use of mil­i­tary funds or per­son­nel against peo­ple en­gaged in protest­ing push­ing back against Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump, who has threat­ened mil­i­tary force against vi­o­lent protests.

“This is some­thing that no one would have thought to in­tro­duce last year or any other year I’ve been in the Armed Ser­vices Com­mit­tee. No one would have con­tem­plated that a pres­i­dent would use force against peace­ful pro­test­ers,” Kaine said dur­ing the call with re­porters.

“If there was a slam dunk that should unify us, I would think it would be that.”

McEachin is­sued a sim­i­lar call to fel­low law­mak­ers in the House.

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