Justice: Police reform is on the horizon

Protesters gather to honor those who have been killed by police. Kalea Morgan/Unsplash

March 3 marked the 30th anniversary of the beating of Rodney King in Los Angeles, CA, by four LAPD officers. King suffered skull injuries, broken bones, teeth and traumatic brain injury. The officers indicted for the beating were acquitted a year later, sparking civil unrest and five days of rioting in the Los Angeles area.

Last year on May 25, George Floyd was allegedly murdered by four Minneapolis police officers. The use of deadly force has led to an indictment of the officers who will be tried this spring. The four officers, Derek Chauvin, J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane and Tou Thao charged in the killing of George Floyd will stand trial. 

Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer, is charged with second-degree murder and manslaughter of George Floyd. He began his trial on March 8 with heavy security amid the public broadcast of the proceedings. 

Protests across the country and worldwide broke out in a reaction to the incident. In response to the protests, law enforcement policies have been under scrutiny, and reforms in legislation and internal agencies have sparked a debate between citizens and law enforcement. President Joe Biden has backed a bill, H.R. 1720 — The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act.

“The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act will address systemic racism, curb police brutality and save lives,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a statement last week. “This legislation includes bold reforms, which ban chokeholds, stop no-knock warrants, end the court-created qualified immunity doctrine, combat racial profiling, and establish strong new standards and protections to prevent and combat police misconduct.” 

On this 30th anniversary of Rodney King’s injustice, The George Floyd in Policing Act was passed in the House 220 – 221. The resolution to end police brutality has now become at the forefront of mainstream media since videos have surfaced depicting such incidents as the Rodney King beating in 1991 and the murder of George Floyd last year.

From Jan. 2000 to the present, over 1,250  persons have been killed in officer-involved fatalities in Los Angeles, according to the database Fatal Encounters. During that same period, there have been 281 police encounters that resulted in death throughout Orange County. With reform on the horizon, these numbers can drop significantly or more officers can be held to a higher accountability standard.