COLUMBIA - The conviction of Derek Chauvin on charges of murder and manslaughter has quickened the call for police reform.
The Biden administration is now calling for action at the national level. They called on Congress to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act. The legislation has already passed in the House.
The act would ban officers from performing chokeholds and no-knock warrants. A chokehold used by Chauvin resulted in the murder of Floyd in Minneapolis last year. A no-knock warrant resulted in the death of Breonna Taylor in Louisville, Kentucky in March of 2020.
Jacquelyn Watts, an activist with the Columbia social justice group Peoples Defense, said the ban on chokeholds could lead officers away from using that type of force.
"It would have a large impact, especially once it's known that they will be punished for continuing to teach officers such moves," Watts said.
In Jefferson City, Lincoln University Police Chief Gary Hill said the move is not trained at the school's recently established police academy.
"I know in other places it has been used, but we don't teach it at our academy," Hill said.
The academy instructs recruits on search warrants, but not on no-knock search warrants.
The act's current form eliminates qualified immunity, a legal principle that protects government officials from many civil lawsuits, for law enforcement officers.
Chief Hill said he was "50-50" on ending the practice of qualified immunity. Instead, he suggested a type of malpractice insurance.
"Just like doctors, we should have some sort of malpractice insurance that we should have to carry in the event that we do something that is outside of policy that we should be accountable for," Hill said.
Watts supports ending the practice because it would force officers to think twice about their actions.
"Not only could they be punished, but they can be fined, and their families be left to pay the debt," Watts said. "It'll make people think twice. I really do believe that."
A national police misconduct registry would also be created. The intent is for the public and for law enforcement agencies to know the prior record of officers.
Race Matters, Friends President Tracy Wilson-Kleekamp said reporting misconduct internally is something that has not worked.
"Police departments are always saying that they're doing internal reform, but they have no evidence that they're doing that," Wilson-Kleekamp said. "But we can see the outcomes of policing."
Hill said the registry would be unnecessary because a system for reporting misconduct already exists with the Department of Public Safety. He said accountability comes best from within.
"I don't think that another system in place is going to help," Hill said. "We have to start at the first line supervisors all the way up the chain of command to ensure that when we do have those things, that officers are held accountable."
If passed, the law would also include provisions to limit the amount of military equipment allocated to state and local agencies and require the purchase of body cameras using existing federal funding.
KOMU 8 reached out to the Columbia Police Department and the Columbia Police Officers Association for comment. They both declined an interview.