Tyre Nichols, a 12-year-old Black kid, was shot and killed by police in Columbus, Ohio, prompting President Biden to call for changes to police procedures in his State of the Union speech. The sad incident has rekindled calls for Congress to approve a police reform measure, which would help put a stop to the overuse of force and racial profiling by law enforcement.
Republicans controlling the lower house is another barrier to passing any type of significant legislation. Despite this, there have been efforts on both sides of the aisle to change police procedures. For instance, Senator Tim Scott (R-SC) worked on a criminal justice reform package that was supported by some Democrats and passed the Senate last year. This bill’s objective is to improve law enforcement agencies’ openness and accountability. Likewise, Representative Karen Bass (D-CA) filed the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act in the House, which advocates for stricter training standards and a ban on specific police tactics like chokeholds.
Also, there is a racial divide in how Americans view the issue and what they want policymakers to do to address it. According to polls, Black voters are more likely than white voters to believe that police violence against civilians is a major problem that needs to be addressed through legislation. According to a poll conducted by ABC News/Ipsos last year, 74% of African Americans support outlawing chokeholds and other forms of restraint applied by law enforcement.
Despite the support of many citizens for improvements, disagreements about union engagement and qualified immunity continue to obstruct the adoption of any kind of legislation meant to resolve the current problem. It is still uncertain whether any significant legislation will be passed anytime soon without backing from both chambers of both parties and agreement on specific principles. Nonetheless, it is still feasible that required reforms could be adopted sooner rather than later with increasing pressure from activists and members of both parties.