Chicago, IL –(ENEWSPF)–May 18, 2015. In a truly bipartisan spirit, House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) and Democratic Ranking Member John Conyers (D-MI) announced last week (http://1.usa.gov/1EeWBhb) that the House Judiciary Committee would hold a hearing on “Policing Strategies for the 21st Century” on Tuesday, May 19 at 10:00 a.m. Rep. Luis V. Gutiérrez (D-IL), a Member of the House Judiciary Committee, has been calling on the Chairman to hold just such a hearing since shortly after Florida teenager Trayvon Martin was killed by George Zimmerman and the local police failed to file charges (see press release, July 15, 2013: http://1.usa.gov/1Jt9yee).
On Monday, Rep. Gutiérrez said he plans to use his participation in the hearing to ask questions he has gleaned from Chicago teenagers and young adults when it comes to handling interactions with the police.
“Young Chicagoans know that interacting with the police can be a life or death matter and I have been struck by how many kids and young adults tell me they have to prepare themselves to come in contact with cops,” Rep. Gutiérrez said on Monday. “One high school student told me how he had trained himself in de-escalation techniques and strategies – something I would think cops should be trained in, not law abiding teenagers.”
Rep. Gutiérrez asked students he has met with in the past several months to submit questions they would like asked of the experts at the hearing. He will ask questions he received from the Phoenix Military Academy (a Chicago public school, near Westside), at tomorrow’s hearing.
Coming just a day after President Obama announced that his Administration would limit access to military grade materials, weapons, and vehicles for local police, the hearing comes among heightened tension over policing issues. The deaths of unarmed men in Baltimore, New York, North Charleston, South Carolina and Ferguson, Missouri, are just the most well-known examples. The militarization of police forces and eroding trust between police and local communities are widespread issues for every police force, including Chicago’s. The Judiciary Committee has recently passed bills to force state and local police to enforce federal civil immigrations laws, further undermining police/community relations and community policing strategies that have been shown to reduce crime and violence.
“I am glad the Judiciary Committee is finally looking at how police around the country conduct their business and how effectively they are serving and protecting every person and neighborhood in their jurisdictions,” Rep. Gutiérrez said. “The Committee up until now has essentially ignored one of the most pressing issues in the country as the body count of both civilians and peace officers rises. It is past time for this hearing and a serious look at violence and guns and police in our neighborhoods, so I thank the Chairman and the Ranking Member for the hearing and I look forward to getting some answers.”
Rep. Luis V. Gutiérrez represents the Fourth District of Illinois, is a Member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, is a Member of the Judiciary Committee and the Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security, and is the Co-chair of the Immigration Task Force of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.