Rep. Ilhan Omar: Federal Review Board Needed to Oversee Police Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., speaks Tuesday, April 20, 2021, in Brooklyn Center, Minn., during a news conference at the site of the fatal shooting of Daunte Wright by a police officer during a traffic stop. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)
By Sandy Fitzgerald | Wednesday, 28 April 2021 11:54 AM
Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., who represents the district where both George Floyd and Daunte Wright were killed by police, has introduced a bill calling for an 8-person federal board that would independently investigate law enforcement shootings and other use of deadly force cases.
Omar said Wednesday that in most places, officers never are held accountable when a death occurs
"What we are hoping to do is sort of turn around the statistic that currently exists where 2% of police who were involved in fatal shootings were arrested since 2005, and the majority of them were not able to be held accountable," Omar told MSNBC's "Morning Joe."
The board would be nominated by the president and approved by the Senate, and it is needed because it is "not adequate enough" for the law enforcement community to prosecute itself, Omar said.
"We're realizing as we put together the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, that it was necessary for there to be standardized police training for us to be able to ban certain practices, to make sure there was qualified immunity," Omar said. "There are a lot of guardrails that still need to be created in order for our justice system to work on behalf of everyone."
Omar added she hopes lawmakers are aware of the tragedy behind the deaths in their communities, "and just the kind of brutality that people are experiencing in the hands of those who have taken an oath to protect and serve our communities," but she doesn't feel comfortable that everyone understands how urgent the current moment is.
"We're going to continue to push them and have the necessary conversations so that we get them to the point where they say, yes, to these pieces of legislation that we are hoping to push forward," she said.
Omar's name has become synonymous with calls to defund the police, an idea many Democrats have rejected. Omar also said after the Floyd shooting that the Minneapolis Police Department needs to be disbanded, show co-host Willie Geist pointed out, and she said that with reforms that are underway, the department will ultimately be "dismantled" and rebuilt.
"Minneapolis right now is engaged in a rigorous process of trying to reimagine what public safety looks like for all of us," she said. "We all realize that our police department has not been an adequate police department where people have full faith in that police department.
"Half of our homicides go unsolved. There are cases reported where rape kits have been destroyed. I remember witnessing my first police shooting as a teenager where Minneapolis police put 3 dozen bullets into a mentally ill man in the middle of the street in broad daylight."
Minneapolis is engaging the community, and there are charter amendments being proposed to think about departments to be formed to deal with "the kind of regular safety measures that the community needs."
And that, she said, will mean the department will be "dismantled" and different law enforcement and safety divisions will be formed.
Omar acknowledged that there will be opposition to federalizing investigations into departments, but insisted that there must be a federal way to standardize training, to make sure certain practices are banned, and to make sure that "regardless of what neighborhood you live in, who your city council members and your mayors might be, that you have a certain standard that you can expect from those who are taking an oath to protect and serve your community."