WASHINGTON, D.C.–Police reform should have already happened, says Sen. Mike Braun. He says lawmakers, particularly Republicans, are woefully behind on the matter. Braun is supporting a bill in the Senate that would likely eliminate choke holds, reforming qualified immunity for police officers and eliminating no-knock warrants.
Those three issues are some of the commonalities with the Democrat-supported House version of police reform, which Braun said he did not believe would pass.
“All of this to me is common sense for those of us that believe deeply in the Constitution, which means that in anything there should be transparency, accountability,” said Braun in a Wednesday morning conference call with reporters.”
Braun said he believes Democrats are going to far in demanding an end to qualified immunity, which protects police officers from consequences under the law, unless they’ve been grossly incompetent or clearly violated someone’s rights. Braun believes that doctrine should be reformed, not eliminated.
“I am gonna introduce a bill after the Republican package gets introduced, that is about reforming qualified immunity,” he said. “This is a bill that does not eliminate qualified immunity because that has no chance of getting any support among Republicans.”
He said the modified version would still protect cops from frivolous lawsuits.
While the Republican “Justice Act”, would address some points already addressed in Pres. Trump’s executive order, it would also make money available for body cams and create a commission ton study conditions faced by black men and boys in America. The bill has been put together in part, by Sen. Tim Scott (S.C.), the only black Republican senator.
“Here police reform goes deep into how unions have been involved at protecting bad actors, and you don’t unravel that quickly,” said Braun.
The bill is being criticized as not hard enough, with some of the provisions stopping short of being mandates.
Braun said he hopes Republicans will work to get it through the Senate by the July recess. He said he believes it has the best chance of any legislation, and that it is regrettable it took the deaths of George Floyd and Rashard Brooks to serve as a catalyst to bring enough attention to the matter.
“This is fairly simple. When a Civil Right is violated, that is ensconced in our Bill of Rights and throughout the Constitution. This is to say that can’t happen.” For Braun, that makes it a federal matter, though he believes in small government.
“I view this a little differently in that it gets to the basic foundation of our Constitutional rights,” he said.
He criticized Republicans in Congress for not being out front on issues like health care, the environment and police reform, which he said may come from an instinct for less governmental involvement on such matters.
“When it comes to concies, clear things that make sense to most people, we should be out front, not coming from behind.”