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Braun announces support for police reform

(Caleb Hatch/WOWO News)

WASHINGTON (Network Indiana): Indiana Senator Mike Braun says Congress needs to pass a comprehensive police reform bill.

Braun is part of a group of Senate Republicans led by South Carolina’s Tim Scott, the only African-American Republican senator, drafting their version of a reform bill. Democrats in the House and Senate have already introduced their own proposals. Braun says the “horror” of George Floyd’s videotaped death and the sustained protests which followed create an opportunity and a need to keep bad officers from drowning out the work of their colleagues.

Braun offers no serious objections to Democrats’ version, which would expand training, require body cameras, penalize officers who fail to turn those cameras on, and reduce police immunity from lawsuits. But he says some of those provisions may not have enough Republican votes to pass, particularly the immunity provisions.

Police can’t be sued for actions “in the scope of their official duties,” a standard which leads to hard-to-win courtroom arguments over when legitimate steps to subdue a suspect cross into actions which aren’t part of the job. Braun says courts have interpreted the law in a way that inhibits the ability to hold what he calls the “few bad apples” accountable. He says meaningful reform will help good officers do their job.

Braun wouldn’t go quite as far as Democrats’ bill in banning chokeholds, but says there’s no justification for those holds once someone has been subdued. And he says he needs to give further study to a proposed ban on no-knock warrants.

Braun does slam some activists’ call to defund the police, which is not in either House or Senate Democrats’ bill, as “one of the craziest ideas I’ve ever heard.”

The freshman Republican also criticizes President Trump for Tuesday’s tweet speculating without evidence that a 75-year-old peace activist seriously injured by police in Buffalo might be “an Antifa provocateur” or “a setup.” Martin Gugino remains hospitalized after hitting his head on the pavement when an officer shoved him. Braun calls the incident “horrific,” and says Gugino easily could have died. Braun says Washington should be focused on healing the divide bad police create between good officers and their communities.

“There were many of us that probably thought that wasn’t the place to tweet,” Braun says.

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