USA TODAY International Edition

Nichols case renews debate on federal police accountabi­lity

- Ken Tran USA TODAY

The videos released of Tyre Nichols’ brutal beating which led to his death in Memphis, Tennessee, and the charges against the five former police officers involved has reignited conversati­ons about federal police accountabi­lity legislatio­n such as the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act – and could have even galvanized bipartisan support for such legislativ­e efforts.

“We need a national conversati­on on this,” said Sen. Dick Durbin, D- Ill., chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.”

“These men and women with badges put them on each day and risk their lives for us, I know that,” continued Durbin. “But we also see from these videos horrible conduct by these same officers in unacceptab­le situations. We’ve got to change this for the better.”

Rep. Jim Jordan, R- Ohio, chair of the House Judiciary Committee, expressed skepticism on NBC’s “Meet the Press” of federal efforts, but left the door open for congressio­nal action.

“We’ll look at what we think makes sense to help this,” Jordan said Sunday. “To make sure they have the proper training, but no amount of training is going to change what we saw in that video.”

When pressed about the issue of “wandering cops” – police officers adjudicate­d for misconduct in one department only to be hired by a different police department – Jordan conceded that federal action could be needed.

“Maybe there’s some kind of federal law we can look at that requires that to happen,” said Jordan, noting his preference for local government involvemen­t. “But it’s done at the local level.”

Civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who represents Nichols’ family, called on President Joe Biden and Congress to discuss passing the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act again after negotiatio­ns over it collapsed in an evenly divided Senate in 2021.

“Shame on us if we don’t use ( Nichols’) tragic death to finally get the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act passed,” Crump said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act contained several reform measures that included a ban on chokeholds and federal no- knock warrants. The bill passed the Democratic­allycontro­lled House in 2020 but was brought up in the Senate which was controlled by Republican­s at the time.

After Democrats retained control of the House and claimed the Senate in 2021, House Democrats passed the bill again. A group of prominent Black lawmakers, now- former Rep. Karen Bass, D- Calif., Sen. Cory Booker, D- N. J. and Sen. Tim Scott, R- S. C., led negotiatio­ns but the bill ultimately was never taken up in the Senate due to disagreeme­nts between Democrats and Republican­s over ending qualified immunity for police officers.

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