Rep. Dave Reichert has been called in by Republicans to outline his plans for legislating police reforms during discussions over the hotly debated Commerce, Justice, and Science (CSJ) Appropriations bill, with the mission of demonstrating that the GOP wants to do something about recent unrest between protesters and police over the deaths of young black men, Roll Call reports.
The Washington State Republican and Rep. Luke Messer, R-Ind., are to organize a GOP working group charged with looking for legislative solutions to tensions between police and civilians such as those that have led to riots in Ferguson, Missouri, New York and Baltimore.
House GOP Conference Chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers told Roll Call, "It was intentional to bring him in today. With all the unrest around the country and growing scrutiny over local law enforcement, I think his perspective and his leadership is really important at this time."
In choosing the six-term congressman, Republicans are turning to a solid police expert with 33 years in law enforcement, a former sheriff of King County who reopened the long-cold case of the infamous Green River serial killer and captured Gary Ridgway, resulting in his conviction for raping and strangling at least 48 prostitutes in 2003, Politico notes.
On Capitol Hill, Reichert has pushed for reforms in policing and already has reached out to Congressional Black Caucus members Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., and Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas, for their input, Roll Call reports.
"We are really in a crisis," he told Politico. “If we let this (police protest) movement continue, then we are in serious danger of letting our society collapse, and that’s why I feel this urgency to get a handle on it right now."
Roll Call reported that Reichert originally sought the creation of a formal select committee to tackle the problem, but has settled for the working group, saying it "brings a floodlight" to the problem.
He has called for a plethora of reforms, including the use of body cameras on cops, increased community involvement in police hiring and discipline, improved training and stricter reporting requirements over the use of force.
"This has got to be a priority. Otherwise this country is going to collapse into some serious chaos in our cities, not just between police and community, but divided by race, divided by economic status," he told Politico.
"Let’s not burn down the city but work together to go through the process to find the truth, to hold people accountable and improve the training and our hiring process and go about this in the correct way."
Reichert is sure that he is the right person to lead the GOP's law enforcement reform efforts.
"I’ve had my throat cut with a butcher knife. I’ve been in situations where it’s life and death. I’ve held the hand of a person who is grasping for their last breath. I’ve collected body after body of little girls on the street. I come at this from a whole different world. Unless you’re a cop, you don’t get it," he told Politico.
"When you have a diverse community, police officers need to be sensitive to every one of those diverse issues in communities. They should know how to interact, talk and get training in how to build a relationship with people of all walks of life.”
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