Booker ends bipartisan talks on police reform

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TRENTON – After months of negotiations and repeated extensions of self-imposed deadlines, U.S. Senator Cory Booker announced on Wednesday that there would be no bipartisan agreement on how to proceed with police reforms in Congress.

Booker, DN.J., who was one of the leading Democratic negotiators working on the legislation with US Senator Tim Scott, RS.C., said “there was still a wide gap with our negotiating partners.” and that “the time has come to explore all other options.

“After months of exhausting all possible avenues to a bipartisan agreement, it remains out of reach for now,” Booker said.

The failure of the talks led to partisan denunciations. Scott said Democrats walked away from the negotiating table and “wasted a crucial opportunity.”

“Defining the police destabilizes our communities. Change takes resources, ”Scott said. “I proposed to introduce a bill that included our areas of compromise – a bill that activists and law enforcement could have supported. While they had a lot of agreement, the Democrats said no because they couldn’t let go of their effort to fund our law enforcement. Once again, the left has allowed its mistaken idea of ​​perfection to be the enemy of good, hard-hitting legislation. “

Scott said areas of agreement included banning strangulations, limiting the transfer of military equipment and increasing mental health resources. One of the main hold-ups appears to be qualified immunity, which protects most officers from being sued for deaths caused by their actions.

“Sadly, Senate Republicans rejected passage of modest reforms, which even the previous president had supported, while refusing to take action on key issues that many law enforcement officials were prepared to address.” said President Joe Biden.

“Republican intransigence to end police violence is blocking the basic measures we need to save lives,” said Ben Jealous, chairman of the progressive advocacy group People for the American Way. “Not only is their refusal to consider ending qualified immunity reprehensible, but they have also refused to budge on a series of other reforms that actually had the backing of law enforcement.”

Here is Booker’s full statement:

“America has a serious problem with discriminatory police and excessive and lethal force used against communities of color. We cannot properly honor the lives of the victims of this violence if we do not take meaningful steps to prevent violence and future deaths and make our communities safer.

“We made it clear from the start of our negotiations that a bill must ensure real accountability, transparency and the policing standards necessary to end the horrific incidents of violence that Americans routinely see – such as murder. by George Floyd. After months of exhausting all possible avenues to a bipartisan agreement, it remains out of reach for the time being, even after working collaboratively with and gaining support from police groups like the Fraternal Order of Police and the International Association of Chiefs of Police for our proposals.

“Unfortunately, even with this law enforcement support and other compromises we offered, there was still too wide a gap with our negotiating partners and we encountered significant obstacles in reaching a bipartite agreement. .

“The time has come to explore all other options for achieving meaningful and sensible police reform. I will not stop fighting until we make a change that keeps our communities and our police safe. “

Michael Symons is the State House bureau chief for New Jersey 101.5. Contact him at [email protected].

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