Calls for police reform continue after Congress talks break down

Washington-DC

NEXSTAR (WASHINGTON) — After months of negotiations, police reform negotiations between Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill broke down last week.

But calls for action are not going away.

The head of the National Sheriff’s association, Jonathan Thompson, says after Democrats made concessions and removed more divisive provisions like abolishing qualified immunity, he was growing optimistic about the prospect of a deal on police reform. Now, he’s just hoping there’s a way to keep the bipartisan effort alive.

“We need to stay at the table, we need to talk,” Thompson said. “Of the language that we saw, I’d say we were 90% on board.”

He says he’s disappointed lawmakers failed to strike a deal after months of negotiations on police reform.

He says with crime on the rise, he supported a compromise plan to ban chokeholds and no-knock warrants, while also adding more money for police training and mental health resources.

“The mental health problem in this country … it’s an embarrassment,” he said. “We’re putting in jail people who belong in hospitals.”

Ultimately talks broke down over how to enforce change. Democrats wanted to withhold federal police grants if local agencies failed to adopt new tactics.

Thompson says that was a bridge too far.

“We feel very strongly that law enforcement is a local function,” he said. “One size can’t fit all.”

Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, blames Democrats for sinking the deal.

“One hundred percent of what they want, that’s not compromise,” Grassley said.

Sen. Sherrod Brown , D-Ohio, disagrees.

“There’s plenty of blame all the way around,” Brown said.

With no legislative deal in sight, the White House is pledging to take executive action on police reform after consulting with both civil rights and law enforcement groups.

But Thompson says in the end he hopes the administration does not step in and that lawmakers come back to the table.

“We stand ready to have those discussions,” Thompson said.

Civil rights groups are also calling on Congress to return to the negotiation table but say if a deal cannot be reached, President Joe Biden should step in and take matters into his own hands.

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