Sen. Tim Scott put a great deal of work into working on a bill that addresses police reform last year and addressed law enforcement culture as the “root of the problem,” only to have Democrats in the Senate use the filibuster to stop it from moving forward, but the issue should not be approached in a highly partisan manner, House Minority Whip Steve Scalise said Wednesday.
“How do you go after the culture in some of these departments like Minneapolis where you’ve had these bad cops?” the Louisiana Republican said on Fox News’ “America’s Newsroom,” while discussing the guilty verdict reached in the case of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin in the death of George Floyd.
“Yesterday a dirty cop was put in jail,” said Scalise. “That’s the way justice is supposed to work. My colleague in the House, (Rep.) Pete Stauber was a good cop in Minnesota and he worked with Tim Scott on that bill and I would like to see President (Joe) Biden fulfill his promise of unity by working with Republicans.”
An issue as sensitive as police reform shouldn’t be approached in a “hyper-partisan” way by attacking all the nation’s officers, including measures to defund police departments or take away qualified immunity, which “undermines the work of good cops,” he continued.
He pointed out that at one time, there were “real problems” with the New Orleans Police Department, but former Mayor Marc Morial, now the president of the National Urban League, “cleaned up a dirty system.”
“There was a culture where there were a lot of dirty cops at that time and he confronted it and fixed it,” said Scalise. “You’ve got to focus on going in and fixing the problems but don’t undermine the important work that good police officers do every day putting their lives on the line to keep our communities safe.”
Meanwhile, Democrats have said they don’t think Scott’s proposed bill goes far enough, with its call to end the use of chokeholds, make lynching a crime and to enforce reforms on the use of force, but Scalise said the call to take away qualified immunity will make police officers resign if that happens.
“For the left that just wants to defund the police, I don’t hear a lot of them saying they don’t want police to protect them,” he said. “I think we have to be very careful that we don’t undermine what good police do every day in our communities to keep us safe when you are going forward with this.”
The radical left, he added, has made it clear that it wants to defund the police as part of their agenda, but there is still a way to come together.
“Work with Republicans who know something about this too and we could come together,” he said.. “President Biden needs to take leadership and follow through on the promise he has yet to fulfill to work and unify this country and work with everyone, Republicans and Democrats.”
Scalise also called for both sides to turn down the temperature with their arguments.
“We have to tone it down and sit and work together through this,” he said. “This is a bipartisan problem that needs to be solved in a bipartisan way. America is counting on us to do it and we have to rise to this occasion.”