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Bob Goodlatte

Congressman Bob Goodlatte’s Weekly Column: October 28, 2016
By Congressman Bob Goodlatte
Washington, DC (May 28, 2016) - Right now, an important national conversation is underway in our communities. We’ve all seen the reports of deadly attacks on police officers and excessive use of force by some law enforcement officers. These events have strained race relations and heightened tensions as well as further added to feelings of mistrust between communities and law enforcement. The loss of these lives is tragic, and, like you, I want to see an end to this violence.

This cannot become the new normal. In July, along with Congressman John Conyers, a Democrat from Michigan, I established the Policing Strategies Working Group in the House of Representatives to examine police accountability, aggression towards law enforcement, and public safety concerns related to these issues. The working group itself is a bipartisan initiative at its roots, made up of 12 lawmakers, six Republicans and six Democrats, from across the country.

The goal of this working group is to have an open discussion on the issues so that we can begin to find common ground. We have already held two roundtable discussions in addition to traveling to Detroit to learn about the work law enforcement and community leaders have done there to strengthen relationships as well as the challenges that remain. We are also taking these efforts to our own communities – it’s important that we listen and talk with people who are impacted by ongoing tension. In the past few weeks, I’ve had the opportunity to ride-along with the Roanoke County and Lynchburg Police Departments to learn more about the daily challenges patrol officers face. I also participated in a forum on stopping violence in our communities, which was a good chance to hear directly from citizens about their concerns. Through this process, I have met many impressive, hardworking law enforcement officers and community leaders who are truly dedicated to their work.

It’s clear that more must be done to end excessive use of force, strengthen police accountability, prevent violent attacks on law enforcement, and improve the relationship between police officers and the communities they are sworn to protect and serve. These issues are not going to be solved overnight, and they won’t be solved by Congress or through legislation alone. Through the Policing Strategies Working Group, I will continue working to determine how Congress can best address these issues at the federal level, including efforts to pass important criminal justice reforms.

Neighbors, community and faith leaders, and state and local governments all play an important role in this effort, and I am committed to working with them to help find the tools they need to do the hard work of improving the relationships between their law enforcement agencies and residents. This isn’t an easy issue to talk about, but this issue cannot be ignored. An open, honest conversation is underway and must continue.

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