Alexander: Senate Democrats Block Police Reform Legislation

Posted on June 24, 2020

WASHINGTON, D.C., June 24, 2020 – U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) today released the following statement on his vote for Senator Tim Scott’s (R-S.C) police reform legislation, which Senate Democrats blocked from being considered by the Senate: 

“I voted to begin debate on Senator Tim Scott’s proposal, which I co-sponsored, because it will make police officers more accountable, encourage departments to ban chokeholds and adopt best practices, provide better training to police officers, and make lynching a federal crime. 

“Congress should have a serious debate and consider amendments on these important issues, and it is a shame that Senate Democrats won’t allow the Senate to even begin to consider this legislation.” 

Background on the Just and Unifying Solutions to Invigorate Communities Everywhere (JUSTICE) Act:

Encourage police chiefs, states and local officials to make police reforms:

  • Creates a federal commission to write best practice guidelines as well as a separate, independent commission to study the criminal justice system.
  • Creates a commission on the Social Status of Black Men and Boys—which will issue a wide-ranging report on issues affecting black men and boys, including education, health care, financial status, and the criminal justice system as a whole. 

Improve data collection and record keeping to make police officers more accountable:

  • Requires states to collect data on no-knock warrants—states that do not would be ineligible for federal law enforcement grants. Additionally, it requires local police departments to collect and report data on the use of force, increases penalties for false reporting by police officers.
  • Expands grant programs for police departments to purchase body-worn cameras and penalizes those departments that do not properly use those cameras.
  • Increases accountability by conditioning federal grants to data collection by states and local police departments on when their officers use force to detain a suspect.
  • Ensures the Federal Bureau of Investigation has access to records when someone dies or is seriously injured in police custody.

Better train police officers:

  • Establish programs to train police officers in alternatives to use of force, de-escalation, and when and how it’s appropriate for an officer to intervene in an apprehension.