WASHINGTON (WJHL) — In a vote largely along party lines, the Democratic-controlled House passed a sweeping police reform bill late Thursday.
Two local lawmakers were among the 180 Republicans who voted against it.
Both Rep. Phil Roe (R-TN) and Rep. Morgan Griffith (R-VA) opposed the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act.
In a statement, Roe’s office said the bill would eliminate qualified immunity, a legal doctrine that protects police from lawsuits alleging a violation of someone’s constitutional rights. Opponents say qualified immunity leads to police brutality.
“House Democrats have put forward a proposal that will make it harder for law enforcement to keep our communities safe, and it wasn’t a hard decision to vote no. The U.S. Supreme Court created qualified immunity to protect government officials like teachers and firefighters from civil liability while on the job. If Democrats take away qualified immunity for law enforcement and allow an increasing number of police officers to be held personally liable for doing their jobs, why would any law enforcement officer engage in a dangerous situation? Why would anyone choose to go into this profession if they could possibly lose not only their life but their livelihood as well? I strongly oppose this bill because it will make police officers’ jobs harder and many good people will no longer even consider becoming police officers, which will hurt all of our communities.
Everyone agrees law enforcement reforms are needed to bring increased accountability and transparency and to improve training. We should also make it easier for police departments to remove bad officers. America is in crisis and needs us to put aside our partisan differences and find common ground. Instead, Democrats in the Senate have blocked any debate from taking place, and Speaker Pelosi accused Republicans of trying to murder George Floyd. As long as Democrats put their political interests ahead of our communities’ safety and security, tragic events like what happened to Mr. Floyd will continue to be possible.”Rep. Phil Roe (R-TN)
Roe is a cosponsor of HR 7278, a separate police reform bill that the congressman says would require reports on law enforcement use of force and no-knock warrants, create grant programs for body cameras, and require departments to retain officer disciplinary records.
News Channel 11 has reached out of Rep. Griffith’s office for comment.