ND lawmakers react to police reform bill proposals

Published: Jun. 18, 2020 at 6:18 PM CDT
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The death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police sparked protests across the country.

Lawmakers from both parties are looking at the potential for police reform.

Both the Senate and the House of Representatives agree that some form of police reform needs to be done, yet each chamber released separate bills Wednesday that vary on how widespread that reform will be.

Sen. Tim Scott, R-SC, introduced the JUSTICE Act, which will help fund state and local police department programs aiming to increase training, accountability, and transparency.

North Dakota lawmakers agree with keeping police departments funded.

"We tie funding to best practices for local police departments, so we avoid tragic situations like what happened to George Floyd, but at the same time the police have the resources and support they need to keep our communities safe," said Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D.

Senate Republicans said the federal government's role should remain a limited one and shouldn't put mandates and bans on state police departments.

"The federal role in funding is to grant programs and this bill does, of course, utilize grant programs, not to defund police departments, but to properly fund police departments," said Sen. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D.

The House unveiled its version of a police reform bill as well.

North Dakota Rep. Kelly Armstrong introduced an amendment to have all federal law enforcement agencies record suspect interviews, something that's not required now.

"Upon that person being arrested or detained and turned over for an interview, there would be absolutely no requirement for that body camera to stay on or for any recording device to exist. I think it's time that our premier law enforcement agencies get into the 21st century," said Rep. Kelly Armstrong, R-N.D.

House Democrats voted not to include Rep. Armstrong's amendment.

The most contentious issues between the House and Senate's bills involve police accountability, no-knock warrants, how to record past bad behavior, and whether or not chokeholds should be banned.

Both houses are expected to vote on the bill proposals next week.