Proposal for La. task force, study to ‘restore’ public trust in law enforcement passes

Louisiana State Capitol
Louisiana State Capitol(WAFB)
Published: Jun. 25, 2020 at 3:57 PM CDT
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Louisiana’s Senate on Thursday, June 25, unanimously approved the creation of a task force to study training, screening, de-escalation, racial bias training, misconduct, duty to report misconduct, penalties, use of force, and processes used to eliminate bad actors in law enforcement agencies in the state.

The task force is charged with developing recommendations for lawmakers to consider by February of 2021, ahead of the legislative session.

The proposal says the aim of those recommendations will be 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.”

State senator Cleo Fields authored the proposal. It initially won unanimous approval in the Senate Sunday, June 14.

Fields’ proposal states he hopes to address “the disparate treatment of people of color by law enforcement agencies” through the creation of the task force.

In that initial version of the legislation, he noted, “according to a 2016 study published by the American Journal of Health, black men are three times more likely than white men to be killed by police intervention.”

Fields’ proposal also initially included language referencing the death of George Floyd.

Floyd was being detained in Minneapolis, Minnesota on May 25 after a store clerk allegedly suspected he was using a counterfeit $20 bill to make a purchase and alerted law enforcement, officials said.

During that arrest, an officer was filmed pinning Floyd to the ground by pressing his knee onto Floyd’s neck for several minutes.

The video shows Floyd say “I can’t breathe,” “I’m about to die,” “Don’t kill me,” and note to responding officers that “everything hurts.”

Floyd was later pronounced dead at a hospital.

Floyd’s death inspired marches in most major cities, and confrontations with officers where tear gas and rubber bullets have been used.

A proposal similar to Fields’ was debated among House lawmakers just days earlier.

It passed after references of Floyd’s death and certain language about race was stripped from the document.

Similarly, members of the House agreed to pass Field’s legislation Wednesday, June 24, after removing references to Floyd’s death and the language referencing the study.

The task force, made up of lawmakers, members of law enforcement, and other academic and policy experts will begin work in August.

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