President Biden on Tuesday revived his call for Congress to pass legislation that would overhaul policing in America as well as make it easier to prosecute rogue cops for misconduct.
“When police officers or departments violate the public’s trust, we must hold them accountable,” Mr. Biden said in his State of the Union remarks.
While discussing police reform, Mr. Biden acknowledged RowVaughn Wells and Rodney Wells, the parents of Tyre Nichols who sat in the audience in the House chamber as guests of first lady Jill Biden.
Nichols died during a violent encounter with Memphis police last month. His death has sparked calls for federal legislation to hold officers more accountable.
“I know most cops are good, decent people,” Mr. Biden said. “They risk their lives every time they put on that shield. But what happened to Tyre in Memphis happens too often.”
The president ended his remarks on policing by urging Congress to pass legislation that would overhaul how officers carry out their job.
“Let’s do what we know in our hearts we need to do. Let’s come together and finish the job on police reform,” Mr. Biden said. “Do something.”
Mr. Biden has called for overhauling policing through the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act. The legislation sought to ban chokeholds and no-knock warrants in certain cases, mandate data collection on police encounters, and reduce qualified immunity protection for law enforcement, making police officers easier to sue.
The proposal passed the Democrat-controlled House in 2020 and 2021 but stalled in the Senate. It faces bigger obstacles this year now that a Republican majority controls the House.
Bipartisan talks on the legislation between Sens. Cory Booker, New Jersey Democrat, and Sen. Tim Scott, South Carolina Republican, broke down last year and the bill was scuttled.
Members of the Congressional Black Caucus invited the families of 15 people killed during police encounters as guests for the State of the Union.
Several Republicans went in the opposite direction, honoring law enforcement with their own invitations to the speech. Reps. Mike Garcia of California and Elise Stefanik of New York were among those who brought members of law enforcement as guests.
• Jeff Mordock can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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