WASHINGTON – Wade Henderson, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, issued the following statement on the introduction of the Back the Blue Act by Senator John Cornyn (R- Texas) and Rep. Ted Poe (R-Texas):
“Our nation is still reeling from yet another senseless killing two weeks ago of a young Black man, Jordan Edwards. Millions of Americans from across the political spectrum have called on elected leaders to enact commonsense police reform that would help to build a more just system. This divisive legislation would make the situation worse by advancing policies that criminalize more Americans and further diminish trust between communities of color and law enforcement.
The safety of the public and of law enforcement officers are both of paramount importance; however, the ‘Back the Blue Act’ is a misguided, costly, and legally questionable attempt to address our concerns for law enforcement safety.
The public needs a smart, carefully drawn legislative proposal that protects all Americans – police and civilians alike – and a commitment to working together to build safe communities. Rather than reflecting thoughtful and effective legislation designed to protect police and civilians alike, the Back the Blue Act would create duplicative and unnecessary crimes, and new mandatory minimum sentences, which would increase overcrowding in prisons, exacerbate existing racial and ethnic disparities in the federal prison system, cost taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars, and rely on a dubious assertion of Congressional authority.
Tragic events should not be forgotten, and fallen police officers should be honored. But this bill would have little actual effect on overall officer safety or public safety. The best way to promote officer safety is to provide strong leadership, improve officer morale and training, enhance accountability and transparency, and build community trust through engagement.”
Wade Henderson is the president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, a coalition charged by its diverse membership of more than 200 national organizations to promote and protect the rights of all persons in the United States. The Leadership Conference works toward an America as good as its ideals. For more information on The Leadership Conference and its 200-plus member organizations, visit www.civilrights.org.