Four police reform bills a signature away from becoming law

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Police reform could soon become a reality.

Four bills sit on Governor John Bel Edwards' desk. They arrived on Friday, and Edwards has ten days to either veto or sign them into law.

Two of the bills raise the requirements to become a police officer, while another shortens the amount of time that an officer can hire an attorney after being involved in a shooting. The fourth bill was written by Representative Katrina Jackson of Monroe.

It expands the statewide database for all law enforcement officers, so that it includes all violations against the officer.

"We have mostly great cops, and if there are bad actors out there that are not doing what they're supposed to do, we don't want them out there either, cause it makes it harder for us to do our jobs," Jackson said.

Jackson says House representatives have been working together towards reform since the Alton Sterling shooting last summer, which caused tension between the community and the Baton Rouge Police Department.

Jackson says their goal is to protect everyone.

"To make sure that there were no other senseless killing of police officers or unarmed men or women, and to make sure that we all had the ability to move forward," Jackson said.

The Baton Rouge Police Union released a statement regarding the bills.

"We are in a profession that is scrutinized more than any other," said Sgt. Bryan Taylor, Baton Rouge Police Union. "We do a job that most could never do. Locally, BRPD will continue to do the job we signed on to do. Nothing will change. We will continue to give everything we have to help our community."

Local activists like businessman Cleve Dunn Junior have also been pushing for reform.

Dunn participates in many outreach programs, and he says he sees the same issues everywhere he goes.
"It's obvious that confrontations between law enforcement officers, in particular black and brown individuals, have been a problem not only here locally but also throughout our country," Dunn said.

But even if Edwards signs these bills, Dunn says it's only the beginning. He says citizens have to do their part as well.

"Things move forward more when you see active engagement from citizens," Dunn said. "When we're visiting our city councils, when we're visiting our state legislature and letting our voices be heard, that's when you see change brought about."

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