More than a year has passed since former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin murdered George Floyd in front of several Minnesotans as onlookers recorded the encounter. Not long thereafter, lawmakers introduced a police reform bill in his honor. Initially, lawmakers hoped to pass the bill as soon as possible. Then, Congress members aimed to pass the bill on the one-year anniversary of Floyd's death. Nearly six weeks have passed since the one-year anniversary took place and lawmakers have still not passed the sweeping police reform bill. Now, lawmakers are worried that "time is running out" and a police reform bill will not be passed before midterm elections next year.
"This Congress is moving very quickly," Senator Cory Booker said.
"There's a crowded agenda on the Senate floor and if we don't do something soon, we will lose a historic moment where we really should rise (to) the moment and make the reforms necessary."
Leaders from both parties have reportedly "reached an agreement" on the framework of the bill, but police unions have been a major roadblock in pushing the proposal through Congress. Sen. Tim Scott reportedly told Booker that if he could get major police unions "on board with a proposal, he would not stand in the way" of it passing through Congress. In response, Booker presented a proposal to multiple police unions. While many unions went along with the proposal, the National Association of Police Organization pushed back and told others to do the same.
"Sen. Booker froze out NAPO and other police groups, despite the fact that NAPO represents just about all law enforcement officers in the senator's state of New Jersey," NAPO wrote in a newsletter.
In an attempt to repair a fractured relationship with police unions, Booker met with Fraternal Order of Police President Jim Pasco this week. After the meeting, Booker felt confident that a bill could be passed.
"I told a great guy named Jim Pasco I viewed him as like an ogre before I got there, because these guys are tough, tough union and have not shown -- in my opinion -- the level of desire for reform. But Jim and I -- along with other law enforcement agencies -- had three weeks in negotiation, working up a lot of respect for him, as I've always had respect for his membership, we came to some accord," Booker said.
"And if we can -- a Democrat from New Jersey and the administrative head of FOP -- come to a lot of agreements, I'm sure hoping that Tim and I can work the final details out and get a bill done."
Despite Booker's optimism, his colleagues are still worried that it may be too little to late. Rep. Karen Bass spoke to these concerns last month.
"Absolutely I worry that it could prevent us from coming to a deal. And you know what? I think that it would be a really sad statement about the profession," Bass explained.
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