Congress sees Chauvin verdict as opportunity for police reform

WASHINGTON (NewsNation Now) — The Derek Chauvin guilty verdict ignited a fresh debate on policing in America with Democrats and Republicans hoping to use the ruling as a jumping-off point for reform legislation.

Republicans say the proposed changes could lead to rising crime across the country.

Attorney General Merrick Garland intends to use that authority to conduct a federal probe into the Minneapolis Police Department, one day after Chauvin was convicted of two counts of murder for the death of George Floyd.

“Congress gave the department the authority to conduct civil pattern and practice investigations which look beyond individual incidents to assess systemic failures,” said Garland.

Democrats and Republicans both came out in support of the DOJ’s decision.

“A squared away department welcomes any review, as does any officer,” said Louisiana Republican Rep. Clay Higgins.

Pattern and practice reviews of police departments were once routine but virtually ended during the Trump administration.

The Chauvin verdict also reignited a debate in Congress about what police reform could look like.

Democrats pushed a sweeping police reform bill through the House of Representatives in March, which would ban certain use of force techniques like chokeholds, create a registry to track police misconduct and ending qualified immunity, which would open officers up to lawsuits.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said President Joe Biden is putting his political capital behind the bill to get it passed.

“He believes the bar for convicting officers is too high, and that needs to change,” stated Psaki.

During his remarks after the verdict last night, Biden emphasized he believes the decision is only a start for police reform.

“George Floyd was murdered almost a year ago. There is meaningful police reform legislation in his name. It shouldn’t take a year to get this done,” said Biden.

Republicans have put forward their own reform bill, which has similarities to the Democrat’s proposal but keeps qualified immunity protections.

“I don’t think the answer is to get rid of sovereign immunity for our police officers. I think their job is hard enough,” stated Louisiana Republican Sen. John Kennedy.

Higgins, a former Sheriff, said ending qualified immunity will drive many good officers out of the force.

“It’s one of the big reasons. Cops will leave law enforcement if they lose qualified immunity,” stated Higgins.