As a response to last month’s death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody, Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley will be taking part in a hearing today to discuss the use of force by police.
Members of Congress are considering a far-reaching package of new restrictions on police forces nationwide, including a ban on chokeholds. “What you saw on television can’t be tolerated,” Grassley says, “when he was executed by being strangled to death by the knee of the policeman.” The hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled for 1:30 P.M./Central time.
Grassley, a Republican, says legislation is also under consideration that would create a national database of incidents where police use deadly force. “We don’t have every state, in fact, we have a minority of states that are really reporting what they ought to report on the number of deaths caused by police shootings,” Grassley says, “or other ways the police might kill somebody.”
Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina is the only black Republican in the U.S. Senate. He’s proposing an extensive list of new rules which Grassley says will be unveiled on Wednesday, including the ban on chokeholds and the new database. “There’s another one that some people think is a poison pill and that deals with the immunity of policemen from lawsuits,” Grassley says. “That’s a little more controversial.”
In an interview with Radio Iowa two weeks ago, Grassley said some issues within police departments need to be addressed by individual city councils, not by members of Congress. He noted the federal government can’t take over local policing. This week, Grassley is clarifying his earlier remarks. “Under our Constitution, it’s difficult for the federal government to say state governments and local governments have to do this or that,” Grassley says. “Our handle here is connected with putting restrictions on federal dollars that are going out.”
Reports say the bill is also expected to make lynching a federal hate crime, while urging police everywhere to use body cameras. President Trump is indicating he would support the new package of police restrictions.