After George Floyd, Louisiana lawmakers back policing study
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) – Amid a national conversation about law enforcement’s use of force with people of color, Louisiana lawmakers are creating a task force to study police training, misconduct and racial bias recognition.
The Police Training, Screening and Deescalation Task Force will make recommendations to state lawmakers about ways to ensure reporting of law enforcement misconduct, penalties for improper actions and removal of “bad actors.”
It’s charged with making “recommendations the task force deems necessary to restore the public’s trust that the law enforcement community is serving and protecting all the citizens of Louisiana in a fair and unbiased manner.”
Sen. Cleo Fields, a Baton Rouge Democrat, introduced the legislation after the death of George Floyd in Minnesota. The task force creation received unanimous votes from both the House and Senate, with a 33-0 vote of senators giving it final passage Thursday.
The 25-member study group – which includes lawmakers, law enforcement representatives, university professors and other community organization leaders – is expected to start its work quickly, with a first meeting required by mid-August.
A report of its findings and recommendations is due to the Legislature by Feb. 1.
While the legislation easily zipped through the Senate with little debate or controversy, it caused tensions in the House, where white Republicans have repeatedly pushed back against allegations of racial bias in policing.
Unanimous House passage of the task force measure came Wednesday only after white lawmakers successfully removed language that mentioned Floyd’s death and that described Black men as more likely to be killed by police than white men.
Fields didn’t object to the rewrite, saying he was “most concerned with” the charge issued to the task force about what areas it should study to make recommendations. That wasn’t changed by the House.
Floyd, an African American man, died after a white Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee into the handcuffed man’s neck for several minutes even as he pleaded for air. His death has prompted a national debate about police tactics and the use of excessive force.
Organizations representing the state’s sheriffs, police chiefs and district attorneys supported creation of the task force.
Senate Concurrent Resolution 7: www.legis.la.gov
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