Police reform negotiations hit gridlock in Congress

D.C. Bureau

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WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — Negotiations on a federal police reform bill have hit a wall on Capitol Hill.

Republicans and police unions remain opposed to Democratic provisions. As a result, lawmakers have missed self-imposed June deadline to strike a bipartisan deal. Still, all sides they are prepared to keep pushing forward.

“We’ve been settling for too long,” Rep. Joyce Beatty, D-Ohio, the chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, said. “Black, brown and white individuals were out there saying, ‘Get your knee off our neck,’ out there marching. … How can we give up now?”

A main sticking point remains Democrats’ desire to end qualified immunity, which protects police officers from individual lawsuits.

“To the unions out there pushing back, what are you afraid of?” Beatty wondered.

Rep. Emanual Cleaver, D-Mo., said that while he opposes qualified immunity, he is open to compromise.

“I feel strongly about qualified immunity; however, let’s pass a bill,” he said.

Zack Smith, a legal fellow with the conservative Heritage Foundation, said police organizations view the current options as unfair.

“How it deals with qualified immunity is the fact that it only eliminates it for law enforcement officers but leaves it intact for all other government officials,” Smith noted.

In a statement, the National Sheriffs’ Association said it remains optimistic and will continue to negotiate until “we can no longer.”

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