Speech in Opposition to H.R. 7120 - "I Cannot Support The Attempt To Federalize Local Police Departments, Which Moves Us Further Down A Slippery Slope I Fear We are Already On"
June 25, 2020
(Washington, D.C.) - Congressman McClintock delivered the following remarks on the House floor:
Speech in Opposition to H.R. 7120
Congressman Tom McClintock
June 25, 2020
Thirteen years ago, I partnered with California State Senate Democrats in advocating for an open records act for complaints against police officers. Five years ago, I co-sponsored Hank Johnson “Stop Militarizing the Police Act.” This year, I co-sponsored Justin Amash’s bill to end qualified immunity for public officials.
So if the majority was seeking bi-partisan support for police reform – they would have had it. If they had sought consultation, compromise and cooperation, if they had reached across the aisle, they would have found many sincere allies among Republicans.
My views on law enforcement were shaped when I had the honor to work for former Los Angeles Police Chief Ed Davis. His approach to law enforcement proved highly effective. While crime increased dramatically across the rest of the country during those years, it came down in Los Angeles under Chief Davis.
He believed in the policing principles of Sir Robert Peel – that the police are an extension of the community.
Chief Davis believed that and practiced it. He introduced neighborhood watch – enlisting citizens to work in partnership with the police. He introduced the Basic Car Plan – that matched patrol officers with individual neighborhoods, so that they would become a familiar, recognized and trusted presence in their neighborhoods.
I believe the closer we adhere to these principles, the more effective law enforcement will become and the fewer abuses we will see.
Major parts of this bill move us closer to these principles, especially the reform of qualified immunity, the need to open police records of misconduct, the restriction of no-knock warrants, the restriction of transfers of military hardware to local police departments and the encouragement of police cameras.
If these provisions were presented as stand-alone bills, I think there would be significant bi-partisan support for many of them.
But by rolling them into a bill that imposes an ideological laundry list of operational restrictions and procedures upon every police department in the nation, the bill is rendered unwise, unworkable and unsupportable. Worse, it ignores the most serious problem we face: the protection of bad cops by collective bargaining agreements that make it all but impossible to fire them.
Policing is a uniquely community-based function. New York, New York and Auburn, California are very different places with very different needs and challenges and standards. Running and micro-managing every local police department in the country is far beyond our competence or authority.
So even though there are provisions of this bill I strongly support, I cannot support the attempt to federalize local police departments, which moves us further down a slippery slope I fear we are already on.
As I look at the wreckage on our streets, it becomes clear that the ultimate target of the left is not isolated abuses by law enforcement officers, but rather law enforcement itself. And as we can now see, without law enforcement, there is no law; and without law, there is no civilization.
Finally, I strongly condemn the sentiments I hear that America is systemically racist.
There are racists of every color in every society. It is the baser side of human nature.
But no nation has struggled harder to transcend that nature and isolate and ostracize its racists than have Americans. The American Founders placed principles in the Declaration of Independence that they believed would someday produce a nation of free men and women of all races and religions, together enjoying the blessings of liberty and the equal protection of our laws. Lincoln denounced any other claim as “Having an evil tendency, if not an evil design.”
An evil tendency and an evil design are exactly what the radical left has re-introduced into our society and it is tearing our country apart.