- The Washington Times - Friday, May 29, 2020

Rep. Val Demings, a former police chief, called for a nationwide review of law enforcement hiring practices in a blunt op-ed in The Washington Post published Friday.

The Florida Democrat, who is a candidate to become presumptive Democratic nominee Joseph R. Biden’s vice presidential nominee, also urged law enforcement officers to think before they act.

“What in the hell are you doing?” she wrote.

“Remember, your most powerful weapon is the brain the good Lord gave you. Use it,” Ms. Demings continued.

Ms. Demings, who served as Orlando’s chief of police from 2007-2011, penned the op-ed in response to the death of George Floyd.

Mr. Floyd, a 46-year-old black Minneapolis man, died Monday after a white police officer knelt on his neck after Mr. Floyd resisted arrest for passing an allegedly counterfeit bill. Video of the incident shows Mr. Floyd repeatedly telling officers he couldn’t breathe. The officer kept his knee of Mr. Floyd’s neck even after he lost consciousness.

The incident has sparked national outrage and three nights of rioting and looting in Minneapolis.

Ms. Demings said the incident highlights minorities’ fears of dealing with police officers.

“When citizens were in trouble (if they had to call the police, they weren’t having a good day), they called really believing that when we arrived, things would get better. That they would be safe,” Ms. Demings wrote. “But we are painfully reminded that all too often, things do not get better. Matter of fact, they can get much worse — with deadly results.”

She also called for a federal review of law enforcement hiring practices and standards, diversity training, use-of-force policies and salaries.

“Law enforcement officers are granted remarkable power and authority. They are placed in complicated and dangerous situations,” Ms. Demings wrote. “When you see people differently, you treat them differently. And when power is in the mix, tragedy can result.”

She also called for the officers involved in Mr. Floyd’s death to be held accountable through the criminal justice system.

The four cops have been fired but have not faced any criminal charges. The FBI and Justice Department have opened an investigation into the death with a focus on whether the officers violated Mr. Floyd’s civil rights.

“My heart goes out to the families of those who have lost loved ones. But we must also offer justice through full and swift accountability — not just for their loved one, but for the future,” Ms. Demings wrote.

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