Ala. Democratic lawmakers respond to Washington police reform proposal

Ala. Democratic lawmakers respond to Washington police reform proposal
Protesters gather outside the Alabama Department of Archives and History to protest the death of George Floyd for a second consecutive weekend. (Source: WSFA 12 News)

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - Protesters have the ears of some lawmakers in Washington as Democrats unveiled a proposal Monday aimed at overhauling policing in the country.

Congresswoman Terri Sewell, D-District 7, held a press conference showing her support for the legislation.

“Americans are crying out for that acknowledgment that we see them and we hear them but most importantly that we’re willing to do something," she said.

The proposal includes banning chokeholds and would require local police departments to send data to the federal government on the use of force.

“It’s so important I think that we have a registry, where we can actually track bad police officers and they can’t go from jurisdiction to jurisdiction," Sewell said.

She also said it would stop people from being barred from recovering damages when police violate their constitutional right.

Montgomery County Sheriff Derrick Cunningham said the department already does not allow for the use of chokeholds.

“We’re not hiring you because you’re the best wrestler and a best boxer and things of that nature. We hire you for your communication skills,” he said.

Cunningham had not read the proposal at the time of the interview Monday morning. However, he did say there has been a shift toward law enforcement using more deescalation tactics instead of force.

“Because one of the things that they teach you is that once a person is in a crisis mode, the less physical contact there is, the better off you are," he said. “Because once you have to touch a person in a crisis mode that really escalates the situation.”

Sewell says the constant pressure in the streets will help encourage Republicans to buy into this proposal.

Sen. Doug Jones, D-Alabama, said in a statement there needs to be a serious discussion about policing and public safety.

“This legislation is an important and long-overdue step toward tackling a problem that we need to address,” Jones said. "While it is not a perfect bill, I look forward to working with my colleagues to address some of those concerns and bring it up for a vote in the Senate as soon as possible.”

WSFA did not hear back from other members of Alabama’s delegation.

The legislation has more than 200 Democratic co-sponsors in the House and Senate.

The legislation will have its first public hearing on Wednesday in a committee.

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