Here’s What’s Going On With Congress & Their Struggle To Agree On Police Reform Policies

After three months of debates over police reform, little progress has been made. Here's what's been decided, and what you need to know.

While the worldwide protests for police reform following the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor have certainly lessened, the desperate need for deep systemic change has not. 

Because the United States government is so massive, it is impossible to keep up with all the elections going on and decisions being made. I am a firm believer in focusing on local elections where each vote holds a huge amount of power, but right now in Congress huge decisions are being made regarding police reform. 

Here are the major points:

Last week, lawmakers involved in the police reform negotiations announced they had reached an agreement on a framework and would continue their discussions. What they didn’t say, of course, was that this framework is extremely weak and relies on the cooperation of many reluctant parties. After three months of debating, little progress has actually been made. 

Feuds have arisen between Democrats and Republicans, who have then pitted law enforcement groups against each other to get their way. Sheriffs, who represent mostly rural areas of the country, and police officers who serve more urban environments, are fighting over many of the policies. 

One important point to highlight is that none of these discussions involve defunding the police. 

The two major aspects being discussed are the criminal conviction standards of police officers, meaning what crimes police can be held accountable for, and qualified immunity, the protections police get from the law. Democrats are vying for more police accountability in line with what most liberals want, and Republicans are fighting to give police more protections and freedoms, in line with what conservatives want. 

Republican leader Tim Scott stated that if Democrats could get all police groups on board with a plan, meaning both rural and urban forces, he would not stand in the way of the plan. Of course, this is nearly impossible. 

According to NBC News, here is the only agreement all parties have made: Section 242, the criminal standard for charging police, would be left untouched, but would add four new crimes that police officers could be charged with: sexual assault, theft, obstruction of justice and some aspects of excessive use of force. 

Most liberal activists are unsatisfied, but at least it’s a step in the right direction. We’re looking at many more months of discussions and disagreements before any concrete decisions are made.


Kendi is currently a student at New York University and is the author of multiple award-winning poems, short stories, stage, and screenplays