Congressman Steve Chabot (R-Westwood) recently introduced H.R. 7384, the Safer Communities Act, which includes several common-sense police reform measures.
"Instead of getting bogged down in partisan arguments on issues where we disagree, I think Congress should focus on the areas to improve policing on which there is broad agreement," said Chabot. "My legislation includes three common-sense ideas that will help make our communities safer by highlighting the reforms that work, rewarding those police officers that make a profound, positive impact in the neighborhoods they serve, and making it more difficult for those bad actors who abuse their power to continue to serve as police officers. I think it's particularly important that we use the Cincinnati Collaborative Agreement as a model for other parts of the country. The Agreement has been tested, and proven to be an effective tool to bring everyone together at the same table to build a positive, constructive relationship between the police and the communities they serve."
Along those lines, Chabot's legislation requires the Government Accountability Office to complete a study of Cincinnati's Collaborative Agreement (and any similar agreements) to determine what went right, what could be improved, and how the Agreement can serve as a model for other communities throughout the country.
H.R. 7384 would also encourage officers who retire in good standing to continue to serve the neighborhoods they dedicated their lives to protecting, by expanding the Public Safety Officers' Benefit Program to provide benefits to retired officers, who are seriously injured or killed in a public or private security capacity. This provision was inspired by the story of St. Louis Captain David Dorn, a 77-year-old retired officer, who was murdered while responding to an alarm drop at a small business. Specifically, the provision would extend federal education or death benefits to retired officers or their families, when the retired officer is seriously wounded or killed while providing security at a public or private entity, like a small business, a school, or a hospital.
Finally, Chabot's legislation will make it more difficult for officers fired for disciplinary reasons to find employment as a police officer in other communities, by requiring that local police departments retain disciplinary records, and make those records available to other local governments upon request. This provision mirrors language contained in Senator Tim Scott's proposal in the Senate.
Chabot had intended to offer these provisions as amendments during the House Judiciary Committee markup of the Justice in Policing Act, but reconsidered after it became clear that the Democrats on the Committee had no intention of agreeing to any amendments offered by Committee Republicans.
Instead, Chabot turned his focus to working with Senator Scott on the inclusion of the provisions as amendments to Scott's Senate bill. Although Senate Democrats blocked consideration of that legislation in a procedural vote, Chabot is continuing discussions with Senator Scott in hopes that the legislation is considered again on the Senate Floor in the coming days or weeks.