ICYMI: The Path to Reform
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Tim Scott (R-S.C.) wrote an essay for the latest edition of National Review Magazine on the rise in crime in America and the path he’s pursuing toward police reform. Read excerpts from the piece below.
The Path to Reform
National Review Magazine
By Senator Tim Scott
September 16, 2021
One of the most important people in my life is my mom, Frances Scott. As a single mother raising two boys, she worked grueling hours to put food on the table and keep a roof over our heads. Most days she’d work two shifts at her job as a nurse’s assistant. The long hours put her home late at night.
When I was a little kid, one of my dreams was to buy my mom a house with a garage — not as much for the house as for the garage. I wanted her to be able to come home and drive into a place where she was safe. I didn’t want to worry about her late-night walks from her car to an apartment building or through a parking lot. That peace of mind is something I want for every American family.
Yet it seems like that sense of safety is farther out of reach than it’s been in recent memory. Three-quarters of Americans believe that violent crime is increasing and that it’s a major problem plaguing our country. The data, unfortunately, support this growing concern.
It’s no coincidence that this alarming spike in violence comes on the heels of the Democratic-led campaign to defund police departments across the country. As someone who grew up in some of the poorest parts of South Carolina, I think defunding the police is one of the most idiotic and immoral ideas I’ve ever heard. Putting poor people in a position to live without security is just plain wrong.
Though liberal politicians are now attempting to distance themselves from the defund movement, we know that the progressive Left remains in the driver’s seat guiding the Democrats’ agenda. The sad reality is that the communities the Democrats claim to be helping in their defund efforts are the very folks most harmed by under-resourced police departments.
Take Minneapolis. Last summer, the Minneapolis City Council took several steps toward defunding the city’s police department, and in December, the council voted to reallocate around $8 million away from the police budget. Faced with limited resources and no support, officers resigned in droves. As crime spiked in the absence of police, the city’s poor neighborhoods suffered the most. The Fifth Ward — an area with one of the highest concentrations of poverty in the city — saw a marked increase in homicides, robberies, shootings, and stabbings.
It is heartbreaking that this neighborhood, just miles from the site of George Floyd’s murder, became a hotbed of violent crime precipitated by an ill-conceived political reaction to that tragedy.
There is no doubt that the video of Derek Chauvin kneeling on George Floyd’s neck caused an awakening among the American people, as many witnessed for the first time the inconsistencies in our justice system. While some folks retreated to their political corners, the newfound national self-awareness that resulted from the tragedy sparked many valuable conversations across the country about how to improve our system of policing. I knew then that this was a moment to harness this wave of opportunity to make a real impact with meaningful reform.
My team and I worked tirelessly to put together a thoughtful response to the tragic deaths of Walter Scott, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Eric Garner, and too many others. We included provisions that were important to both Democrats and Republicans. We got buy-in from members of the law-enforcement community.
Despite all that, Senate Democrats blocked my bill from even being debated on the Senate floor. I offered them at least 20 amendments, and they still walked out. As I said at the time: They wanted the conflict to continue in order to win the Senate and White House in 2020 more than they wanted a solution to help the American people.
I have not been shy about sharing many of my interactions with the police. I’ve talked about being stopped and questioned at the Capitol, as a senator, even though I was wearing my member pin. I, like many black men, can recall the sting of humiliation that comes with being pulled over simply for driving while black.
But for every one of these unfortunate interactions, I’ve had dozens of positive encounters with police officers. The empathy of the officer who helped me when I got into a dangerous car accident as a teen. Going door to door with North Charleston police officers to deliver presents on Christmas Day. Just as the negative interactions hurt my soul, those positive experiences have an impact on the heart.
We should not make police officers the antagonists of this story by painting with a broad brush. We need more character-driven men and women to come into these high-pressure, high-crime areas. Moving the conversation away from demonizing officers and instead toward strengthening relationships between officers and the communities they serve means talking about allocating more resources so that departments can recruit more officers, train them better, and create a culture of accountability that ensures the bad officers are rooted out. These are things that both sides want. In fact, more than 80 percent of African Americans have said they want the same level of policing or a higher one.
For too long the liberal media have convinced folks that there is a binary choice between the police and communities of color. It’s clear that this couldn’t be farther from the truth. An investment in bettering our police is an investment in the communities they serve. You have to help one to help the other…