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'George Floyd Act' Bills Seeking Police Reforms In Texas, U.S. Face Staunch Law Enforcement Opposition

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People gather at the site where George Floyd was killed while in police custody not to just to protest, but to see comfort in each other.
Jim Urquhart For NPR
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People gather at the site where George Floyd was killed while in police custody not to just to protest, but to see comfort in each other.

Sweeping police reform legislation is being considered both in Congress and by the GOP-controlled Texas Legislature, after the death of George Floyd renewed nationwide criticism of excessive force in policing and officer accountability, especially as related to violence perpetrated against people of color.

At the state level, Texas' proposed George Floyd Act would in part ban chokeholds and require officer intervention when a partner is using excessive force. Law enforcement officials have voiced concern about various measures in the bill, but are especially opposed to the potential removal of an existing legal shield for officers known as qualified immunity. Claims have also been made that the bill would "defund the police."

The Democrat-controlled U.S. House passed the George Floyd Justice In Policing Act in early March, but it faces an uphill battle in the Senate due to Republican opposition. The legislation, which aims to combat racial discrimination and excessive use of force by police, would be the most significant federal intervention into law enforcement in years.

What are the details of these bills and their potential implications? Why are certain measures considered to be controversial?

How likely are reforms to pass at the state and national levels? Is there any room for compromise?

Guests:

  • Jennifer E. Laurin, professor at the University of Texas at Austin School of Law
  • Howard Henderson, founding director of the Center for Justice Research and professor of justice administration at Texas Southern University, and non-resident senior fellow in Governance Studies at the Brookings Institution
  • Kevin Lawrence, executive director of the Texas Municipal Police Association

"The Source" is a live call-in program airing Mondays through Thursdays from 12-1 p.m. Leave a message before the program at (210) 615-8982. During the live show, call 833-877-8255, email thesource@tpr.org or tweet @TPRSource.

*This interview was recorded Tuesday, April 6.