Washington, D.C. – After reviewing the input Congressman Michael McCaul (TX-10) received from his constituents, he gave the following remarks on the Justice in Policing Act and the JUSTICE Act.
“Over the last several weeks, our country has grappled with how to best lift up underprivileged communities, hold police accountable and incentivize change at the state and local levels. While the House Democrats put forth a bill, they did not allow any input from their Republican colleagues across the aisle. I am concerned this legislation would undermine our law enforcement officials' ability to serve their community. I believe there is a better and more holistic way to reform. The JUSTICE Act would empower our local police departments to make reforms that best fit their diverse population while also tackling issues like homelessness, mental health, and drug addiction. We will completely miss the mark on reform for our districts if we do not also address these critical issues. It is my hope that during that House leadership can put aside politics so we can put forth a real solution for the American people.” - Congressman Michael McCaul
Taking a Pulse Back Home
A few weeks ago, I sent a survey out constituents in the 10th District of Texas regarding police reform and racial issues our country has been grappling with – the results were very insightful, and I appreciate the nearly three thousand who participated in the survey.
When asked, “How much confidence do you have in your local police department?” 51 percent said they had a great deal of confidence, 30 percent said they had some confidence, and then only 19 percent said they had very little or none.
When asked, “Do you think race relations in the United States are generally good or generally bad?” 10 percent said they were unsure, 36 percent said they were generally good, while 53 percent said they were generally bad.
But when asked about their own community, the results were much different. An overwhelming 56 percent said that relations were generally good, and only 23 percent said they were generally bad, and 19 percent were unsure.
Constituents were also given the opportunity to specifically list out what types of reforms they would like to see in their community, here are few of them:
- “True accountability for police actions”
- “More programs to help patients with mental illnesses rather than using police to address issues”
- “Better oversight on police activities and specific actions to improve race relations.”
- “Dismantling of systemic racism and reparations for communities of color. Less militarized policing and more community policing -- and mental health, healthcare, welfare workers in communities.”
- “More focus on education as opposed to incarceration. How much does per capita spending on prison compare to per capita spending on education?”
- “Require comprehensive reporting”
- “Increase funding in education, housing, mental health services."
- “Emphasis on social services in at risk communities, such as education and job training.”
Overall, it seems that the consensus is that my constituents believe there needs to better oversight and accountability of our officers and a focus on lifting up underprivileged communities by empowering our social workers and educators.
One of the key takeaways to remember is that a majority of Texans in the 10th District are confident in their police departments. That is why, Congress must support legislation that empowers our police departments to make essential reforms to hold officers accountable while also providing crucial training to enable them to better serve their communities. This is a better path forward than abolishing the police altogether.
For that reason, I am a proud co-sponsor and supporter of the JUSTICE Act. This legislation would emphasize de-escalation training and tactics and improve hiring protocols to ensure we only hire the finest to serve and protect our communities, this includes hiring of police officers to better represent the diversity in their own communities. Furthermore, the legislation bans the use of chokeholds, increases the use of body cameras, adds scrutiny to the use of no-knock warrants, and makes lynching a federal crime and finally, tackles issues like homelessness and drug addiction. Sadly, Senate Democrats blocked this legislation from coming to the Senate floor for debate even after given the options to offer their own amendments.
The people of my district have expressed to me that we must improve the accountability of law enforcement, not tie the hands of officers, of which most do a good job. Unfortunately, the good faith effort led by Senator Tim Scott (S.C.) has been ignored by House leadership. The legislation crafted by House Democrats federalizes the police force and undermines good officers from effectively helping their communities. Finally, House Democrats offered no amendments from their Republican colleagues to improve the bill, while in contrast, Senate Republicans offered an open amendment process to their Democrat colleagues. It is for these reasons, that I cannot support the House bill. It is my hope that House leadership can put aside politics so we can put forth a real solution for the American people.
I will continue to reach out to members in the 10th Congressional District to understand what types of reform are best for our diverse community.