North Texas congressman proposes bill for more police transparency

Diana Zoga reports.

A North Texas congressman is proposing a sweeping change that would involve the federal government in every officer-involved shooting investigation from the very beginning.

Congressman Marc Veasey believes involving the federal government in officer-involved shootings would help build trust, especially between police and the black community.

With every protest over police, Veasey, whose district represents parts of Tarrant and Dallas counties, notes a display of distrust.

“If we're going to have our police be able to do their jobs safely in what is oftentimes a very dangerous environment that they work in, then indeed we need for the public to be supportive of the police,” he said. “And I think that support will just grow and grow and grow by bringing more transparency to the process.”

Veasey believes more transparency could be achieved with sending evidence to the U.S. Attorney General's Office almost immediately following an officer-involved incident.

The proposed bills, H.R. 6217 and H.R 6216, would also require officers to submit reports within 24 hours, allowing the attorney general to decide when and if video evidence would be released to the public.

“Look at what happened in Charlotte,” the congressman said. “Again, if video evidence was with the department of justice, then they may or may not have been able to assist in some kind of way to help quell some of the unrest that happened there.”

Veasey says since the civil rights movement, the black community may have more faith in the attorney general and the Department of Justice. But for some officers, the exact opposite may be true.

Dallas Police Association President Frederick Frazier says he's concerned if the feds decide what evidence to release to the public, the reasons behind it would be political at the expense of the investigation that could be rushed.

“What are they going to do with it? How is it going to get released? I don’t think the trust factor is there. I certainly know the officers working the streets right now have zero trust in that leadership,” he said. “If you want to put something out within 24 hours, you're never going to get it right.”

The legislation is written to impact police departments that get Department of Justice grant money. Departments would be asked to comply as a condition of getting that funding.

Part of Veasey's proposal would also include more money for body cameras and for police departments.

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