Biden police oversight commission put on pause
The administration has shifted focus on signing the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act
President Joe Biden promised to create a police oversight commission during his first 100 days in office; however, according to a new report, plans have changed.
POLITICO reported the Biden administration has paused plans to initiate and launch the commission after consulting with national civil rights organizations and police unions. Both claimed the commission was not necessary and likely redundant, according to the report.
The White House has instead shifted its police reform priority to the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act being signed.
“Based on close, respectful consultation with partners in the civil rights community, the administration made the considered judgment that a police commission, at this time, would not be the most effective way to deliver on our top priority in this area, which is to sign the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act into law,” Susan Rice, director of the Domestic Policy Council, said in a statement to POLITICO.
She continued and shared that the White House is “working with Congress to swiftly enact meaningful police reform that brings profound, urgently needed change.”
According to the report, while delivering a speech in June 2020, the then-presidential candidate promised to set up an oversight commission. This speech came a week after the former police officer Derek Chauvin killed George Floyd.
“As the ongoing trial in the death of George Floyd makes clear, transforming policing in America is one of the most urgent crises facing the nation today,” Wade Henderson, President of the Leadership Conference, said in a statement to POLITICO. “We also agree with the White House decision to forgo the creation of a commission to study the problem.”
“This matter is much too urgent for delay, and Congress is by far the more appropriate venue to consider changes in law regarding police accountability,” Henderson added.
During the White House press briefing on March 29, press secretary Jen Psaki shared the decision to prioritize signing the landmark legislation into law rather than establishing the promised commission.
“Well, we’re encouraged, first, by the interest and engagement by members of the House and Senate in the George Floyd bill, which is making progress, and there’s discussions that are active at this point in time. That’s really where our focus is going to be at this moment,” she stated.
“We believe that — and he believes, I should say — that it is imperative to put in place — in order to rebuild trust among communities, that there needs to be accountability and there needs to be systems in place to ensure that — and laws changed to ensure that that can be carried out. So that is where our focus is.
The President supports that piece of legislation. And we’re hopeful that he will be able to — he will receive a landmark reform bill on his desk.”
She continued to share there is no confirmed timing to restart the efforts to begin the commission.
“I don’t have any update on the timeline, but I think what’s important to note is that the George Floyd bill, which would put in place and make law a number of the accountability measures and actions that he and so many who watched these events in horror feel are imperative at our — this point our country,” Psaki stated.
theGrio reported, cheered on by President Biden, House Democrats hustled to pass the most ambitious effort in decades to overhaul policing nationwide. The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, authored by California Rep. Karen Bass,. was approved 220-212 late March 3. The sweeping legislation, which was first approved last summer,was stalled in the Senate.
Democrats say they were determined to pass the bill a second time, to combat police brutality and institutional racism after the deaths of Floyd, Breonna Taylor and other Black Americans following interactions with law enforcement — images of which were sometimes jarringly captured on video. Those killings drew a national and international outcry.
This article contains additional reporting from theGrio‘s Associated Press.
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