Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., warned that with rises in violent crime in cities across the country, there is one thing that lawmakers cannot do if they hope to pass effective police reform.
In a conversation with “Fox News Sunday,” Scott emphatically stated that police officers have to feel that the government is on their side.
“One thing you cannot do in police reform is leave the impression that somehow we’re going to demonize police officers,” Scott said. “That’s not going to happen. It can’t happen.”
The South Carolina Republican pointed to Baltimore as a cautionary tale, saying that the city has had to request federal officers to come in because there are 400 vacant spots on the local police force. Maryland lawmakers earlier this year overrode governor’s vetoes to pass sweeping police reforms that included removing protections in police due process for alleged misconduct, increasing the civil liability limit for officers from $400,000 to $890,000, and changing the standard for what is deemed “necessary” force.
“When you demonize police officers, when you defund police and you start talking about this war on police and prosecution and not on crime, you’re going to have a reduction in forces. And if you tell officers that their personal liability is on the line, it is a bad decision.”
The Maryland bills stopped short of eliminating officers’ qualified immunity, which affords them some protection from liability – something New Mexico eliminated in April.
Scott said that while certain issues are up for debate – specifically use of choke holds, no-knock warrants, and a program that provides police departments with military weapons – ending qualified immunity would be a non-starter at the federal level, and has not been up for discussion.
“It’s just bad policy, I won’t support it,” Scott said.
Scott also discussed the ongoing efforts from lawmakers in Washington to pass an infrastructure bill, criticizing Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., for trying to hold a procedural vote on the bill before it has been finalized.
“You can’t see it, you can’t negotiate it. I don’t support that,” he said.
Scott has seen much success as of late when it comes to fundraising for his 2022 reelection campaign, raising 9.6 million during the April-June second quarter of fundraising. The eye-catching figure, and his recent trip to Iowa, have led to speculation that he could make a bid for the White House in 2024.
Scott himself has said that this is his last Senate campaign, raising the question of what comes next, and if the presidential run is in his future. Scott would not reveal what his next step would be, but he claimed his self-imposed limit on his days in the Senate is due to his belief that all elected officials should have term limits.
“I had a job before I went into the Senate, I want a job when I leave the Senate,” he said.
Fox News’ Brie Stimson and Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report