🌎 📸 The New Law Enforcement Package and its Split Reactions
On Thursday, September 22, the House of Representatives passed a package of policing bills aimed at hiring and retaining officers in communities. Republicans and moderate Democrats in the House were generally in favor, while the progressive wing of the Democratic Party was wary about supporting a package only providing funding to recruit more officers. To negotiate with those in doubt, those leading the proposal added programs that seek to uplift minority and disadvantaged communities and provide grant funds that would cover the cost of dispatching mental health professionals to respond to police calls.
Although the package passed through the House, its fate is uncertain in the Senate. Strategists have suggested that Senate Republicans may vote against the bill in order to prevent Democrats from getting a legislative win. Some assume that Democrats are backing the bill to gain favor with independents, and possibly moderate Republicans, ahead of the midterm elections in November. It is also speculated that progressive Democrats in the Senate could do what the wing did in the House and refuse to vote for the bill, as they feel it lacks proper accountability measures.
Liberal Political Commentary
House Democrats have spectacularly passed a pro-policing package that gained bipartisan support– one that will likely boost their chances in the midterm elections if passed in the Senate. It is unfairly and largely incorrectly assumed that Democrats are anti-law enforcement, and the support among the party (for the most part) disproves that idea. Reasonably requesting more accountability for police and sensible reforms doesn’t mean “defund the police” or “abolish the police” as fear mongers in the Republican Party may suggest. Instead, the approach is aimed at keeping the police an active force within the community, but making them a more positive, unprejudiced force.
The changes made to sway progressive Democrats did just that; by providing funds for mental health professionals to respond to certain police calls, it’s likely that if implemented correctly there will be far more success in de-escalation efforts. Of course with success in de-escalation, there will be a lower opportunity for police violence and there will be a reduction in lives taken during police interaction.
Conservative Political Commentary
The democrats have put to vote several bills concerning law enforcement in the last week. These bills have been for funding and change within the police departments. One bill specifically is the Invest to Protect Act otherwise known as Gotheimer’s bill due to his patronage of it. This bill would provide funding to an estimated 96% of police departments. According to Representative Josh Gottheimer, "it will ensure that local police departments across our country have what they need to recruit and retain the finest officers, to provide necessary training, and to invest in providing mental health resources for our officers,”(Boggs).The bill itself would provide $60 million annually for five years to police departments with less than 125 employees.
The bill has had massive support from republicans with only a few democrats agreeing to it. In the vote more than 153 republicans voted for the bill while only 9 democrats did. Some democrats argue the bill would be a blank check to police departments and instead wanted more stipulations for how the money was spent. This aligns with republican accusations of Democrats being soft on crime. Since 2019 (before the Pandemic) murders have spiked by 40%.It has been acknowledged that the passage of this legislation would allow for the police departments to focus on community-oriented approaches and specific de-escalation training for officers to improve their responses to situations. Also, the money would be used for body cameras in order to hold officers accountable.
According to Omar and Progressive Caucus Chair representative Pramila Jayapal "After significant, deliberate negotiations, we are pleased to share that ... the bill will include a number of reforms to ensure funds are used to support smaller police departments, to invest in de-escalation and other important training, and for data collection and mental health," (Khan and Hutzler).Gottheimer after the passage of the Invest to Protect Act stated “Every single member of our caucus is going to fund law enforcement, not defund.”(Salant).However Republicans have accused the democrats of using the bill as a political stunt to try and gain votes so close to the midterm elections. Republican Van Drew stated the bill’s passage was “faulty and a last-minute attempt” for Democrats “to redeem themselves.” He called the measure “hypocritical” and “nonsense.”(Salant). Overall, the fact remains that the bills passage gives hope for more bipartisan bills in the future for important matters.
Liberal Journalist Opinion
Yay! Another bill addressing policing that completely misses the root of the problem has passed! A crumb of what activists have been asking for since the deaths of unarmed people at the hands of police has been granted, meanwhile an entire slice has been given to those in favor of a militaristic police force. Adding swaths of police to a certain area doesn’t necessarily make that area safer– what it does do, however, is lead to over policing. Of course, most of this over policing happens in majority-minority neighborhoods… it’s almost like that’s why they have a higher rate of crime. Pretty much the only way to hit abusive police is through their pockets (because it’s not like other police will expose them), and by giving police forces more money that will become increasingly difficult. Not only that, but funneling funds into police forces allows them to do what some in major cities have and buy tanks– yes, literal military-grade tanks– and grenade launchers for officers to use. Why would any domestic protector of civilians need a tank or a grenade launcher? They don't. End of story.
The tiny victory in the package is providing funds for mental health professionals to respond to certain police calls. This common-sense reform is something activists have been asking for from seemingly deaf ears. Police are not equipped to handle individuals with mental illnesses that may impair their ability to follow directions or cause them to behave erratically, and it has caused them to be subjected to unnecessary violence that could have been remedied by a mental health professional. I do worry, however, that these professionals won’t be taken seriously by standing police systems, especially those in rural areas, and this will result in a disconnect that will harm the mental health professionals’ ability to do their jobs.
Written by Ashyln Hill
Conservative Journalist Opinion
The passage of the Invest to Protect Act was likely a political stunt by some democrats to prove they are not for defunding the police; however, it worked in Republicans favor to gain enough support to pass the bill. A different version of the bill was passed in the Senate than that passed in the House of Representatives so it is unclear if or when a concise bill will be able to be put on the president’s desk.
Hopefully, the money is used to integrate more community sources as has been claimed by its proponents in order to get fresh blood into police departments. Doing so would allow for a new era of police officers who are held accountable for their actions and focus on de-escalation rather than using force. We need police officers in cities both as a preventative measure and as a means of pursuing criminals. Completely defunding the police is nonsensical and would leave many Americans unsafe. A new revamping of police departments that are community oriented is what is necessary after the tragedy of George Floyd’s death. By providing funding for more community resources and extensive training of police officer’s the police department can rebuild itself into being a trustworthy institution again. The only way to achieve this is through further funding, training and outsourcing by Congress. The Invest to Protect Act is the first step towards the realization of that goal.
Written by Alexis Walker
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