Police reform, accountability on the minds of many following Chauvin verdict

The future of police reform is on the minds of many following the guilty verdict in the Derek Chauvin trial.

The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act was introduced in the House of Representatives in June of last year. One of the bill’s sponsors says the aim is to change how police act, and to hold them accountable when they break the law.

For communities across the country, the guilty verdicts in the Chauvin trial are a time to rethink how policing should work.

East Bay Representative Eric Swalwell co-sponsored the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act. He says the bill is aimed at increasing accountability and reducing discriminatory policing.

"The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act gets rid of the choke hold as a tactic that police can use," said Rep. Eric Swalwell. "It has a national registry for bad police officers. It gets rid of some of the immunity that police officers have had."

Dr. Tommy Tunson is a former police chief in the Central Valley and criminal justice professor at Bakersfield College. He says there is little doubt that police reform is needed. But, he says police agencies need to be included in the conversation and that there is a danger that reforms could go too far.

"From what I'm hearing bits and pieces, we've just got to be careful," said Dr. Tunson. "We want to protect the community and our citizens at all costs. But, we also do not want to tie the hands of law enforcement."

San Francisco's Police Officers Association agrees that law enforcement voices need to be included in any efforts to reform.

Union President Tony Montoya says when it comes to reforms, the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act doesn't go far enough, he'd like to see national standards for policing in place.

"The intent of the bill is good, we understand that," said Montoya. "We just don't feel that it goes far enough. It seems like there's a lot of forming this committee and making recommendations. But, they need to enact something."

Across the Bay, Oakland's police chief says reform is already part of their plan moving forward.

"Talking about law enforcement accountability," said Chief LaRonne Armstrong. "The department has a strong accountability process that includes not only an internal administrative component, but it includes our police commission."

The House passed the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act last month and is now in the hands of the Senate. President Biden was among those calling on the Senate to pass it just hours after the Chauvin verdict came in.