Republican senator on police reform: ‘We’re going to get to a bill that actually becomes law’

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Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC), the only African-American Republican senator, talks to reporters following the weekly Senate Republican policy luncheon in the Hart Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill June 09, 2020 in Washington, DC.

Chip Somodevilla | Getty Images

South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott, the Republican leading a group of GOP senators on police reform amid national protests over the killing of George Floyd and other black people by the police, said Sunday that he thinks Democrats and Republicans will agree on some form of legislation to address the problem. 

“Is there a path forward that we take a look at the necessity of eliminating bad behavior within our law enforcement community? Is there a path forward? I think we’ll find that,” Scott said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” 

“So there are approaches that are very similar and somewhat different at the same time. I think we’re going to get to a bill that actually becomes law,” he added. 

Calls for sweeping reform to policing come as demonstrations against racism and police brutality continue across the country. The variety of proposals on police reform has been a major point of contention between the parties.

House and Senate Democrats unveiled a bill last week that would ban chokeholds as well as no-knock warrants during drug investigations. The legislation would also create a database on police misconduct, make lynching a federal crime and end qualified immunity for police officers, which would make it easier to hold officers accused of misconduct accountable. 

Scott, however, said it would be hard for the federal government to implement a federal use-of-force standard given the “millions of scenarios that play out” and said most Republicans don’t like the qualified immunity proposal. 

“It’s one of the reasons why what we have tried to achieve through the legislation is finding the best practices around use of force around the country, and then provide that clarity and guidance for those departments who may need to have a better, better perspective on use of force,” he said. “So we’re getting at it, but I’m not sure we’re going to ever codify in law a use of force standard.”

Scott also pointed out the lack of data on how no-knock warrants are served, citing the case of Breonna Taylor, a woman who was killed in her own home when officers crashed into the wrong home with a no-knock warrant and shot her. 

“We don’t know when it’s used, to whom it’s used against. We don’t know the race, the sex, the age. We know nothing about no knocks, except for the Breonna Taylor situation that was tragic without question,” Scott said. 

“I want to take the Breonna Taylor case and have an act that requires more data to be provided so we can actually come out with policies that are consistent with the best use of no-knocks, or the elimination of no-knocks. We just don’t have the information to get there,” he added.

Scott did suggest that he supports a ban on chokeholds, calling them a “policy whose time has come and gone,” and said a registry that tracked officer misconduct would be a point of discussion among Democrats and Republicans.

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