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Demings' Police Background Raises Questions About Possible VP Pick

Demings' Police Background Raises Questions About Possible VP Pick
Rep. Val Demings questions witnesses at a House Judiciary Committee hearing on police brutality and racial profiling earlier this month in Washington. (Greg Nash-Pool/Getty Images)

By    |   Saturday, 20 June 2020 06:12 AM

Florida Democratic Rep. Val Demings’ credentials have landed her on the list of possible Joe Biden VP picks, but her law enforcement background has raised questions about her place on the shortlist, NPR reported.

Before coming to Congress in 2017, Demings was the first woman to lead Orlando's police force — and amid the national outcry over the death of George Floyd and other African Americans at the hands of officers, she’s spoken out about police reform, the news outlet noted.

In Congress, she’s one of the dozens of co-sponsors of a police reform bill offered by House Democrats that would ban chokeholds and many no-knock warrants, limit police immunity from prosecution and set up a national database of police misconduct, NPR reported.

"I've been on both sides of this issue, as a social worker and as a law enforcement officer. I've enforced the laws and now I write them," she told NPR. "I think that's pretty good experience to bring to Congress."

But Jonathan Alingu, co-director of Central Florida Jobs with Justice, has his doubts.

"I don't think it's the right moment for Congresswoman Demings,” he told NPR.

"There are many people that you can talk to within the city that have their qualms with the police department that have never been solved," he said. "She's part of that legacy. That's something she has to answer for."

Demings served as Orlando's police chief for more than three years. An investigation by the Orlando Sentinel found that over a four-year period that included some of Demings' tenure, the city's police officers used force in arrests at double the rate of some other agencies. The investigation found that more than half of the suspects who were subjected to force were black.

"The police department has been like every other police department we're talking about in the United States of America — over-policing the African American community," Jerry Girley, a civil rights lawyer in Orlando, told NPR.

Also during her tenure as top cop, the department was sued in 2011 after an officer broke the neck of an 84-year-old man who was thrown to the ground. Demings later ordered a review of the use-of-force policy, NPR reported.

Girley said nevertheless, he and others in the black community appreciated Demings was open and willing to listen. 

"You're never going to get everything you want, everything you would like," he says. "But they did have the sense that she was trying to be fair."

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Politics
Florida Democratic Rep. Val Demings' credentials have landed her on the list of possible Joe Biden VP picks, but her law enforcement background has raised questions about her place on the shortlist, NPR reported. Before coming to Congress in 2017, Demings was the first woman...
demings, biden, VP
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2020-12-20
Saturday, 20 June 2020 06:12 AM
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