On Wednesday, at a U.S. House Judiciary Committee’s hearing titled, “Oversight Hearing on Policing Practices and Law Enforcement Accountability,” U.S. Rep. Greg Steube, R-Fla., offered the following opening remarks.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Floyd, I would offer my personal condolence to you in the loss of your brother. I can’t imagine having to watch your family die needless and merciless passing. I feel confident that not only will justice be served for him, but I think that significant and necessary reforms will come of this tragic incident.
And I wish Ms. Underwood-Jacobs was here, but I also want to give my condolence to her, hopefully she’ll watch the video. I have a brother and father in law enforcement and I cannot imagine the pain that you are experiencing knowing that someone intentionally targeted him simply because he was an officer. I’m very sorry for your loss and my prayers are with you and your family and with Mr. Floyd’s family. In my prayers this morning Phillipians 4:13 came to mind so I hope you all can reflect on that.
This is a dangerous, dangerous time for law enforcement and their families. Just in a conversation I had with my brother yesterday, he said he had two of his deputies quit because of all the issues they are facing, threats, targeting, being recorded at their home and their vehicles being looted and broken at their homes.
And speaking of law enforcement officers, I would also like to give condolences to the family of the Retired Police Captain David Dorn, who was fatally shot last week trying to prevent a pawn shop from being looted during what the left is calling a peaceful protest. His life mattered as well and I commend his service to his community as a law enforcement officer and wish that there was a member of his family here represented today to give their remarks in his passing.
While officers like David Dorn and Dave Underwood have been targeted and murdered during these so-called protests, it is extremely troubling that many of my colleagues on the left have failed to condemn the violence and rioting in our cities and communities across the country.
Protests are peaceful; looting, killing, stealing, destruction and burning some of the very cities where their leaders just weeks ago were arresting people for violating stay at home orders is absolute lawlessness. And the hypocrisy of these leaders arresting those violating stay-at-home orders for say, going surfing, or other activities, gathering in a synagogue with ten or more people. The hypocrisy of these leaders arresting those individuals for violating stay-at-home orders but sitting by while their cities burn is outlandish to me.
On one day alone, on May 31st in Chicago, one city, on one day, saw 18 people murdered due to rioting, in one night. The deadliest day in Chicago in 60 years, there were over 65,000 9-1-1 calls. And can you imagine if we abolished the police department? Those 65,000 people would be calling and nobody would be there to come to the rescue.
That is not America, that is anarchy and when your leaders talk about disbanding police departments you are emboldening criminals to continue to commit crime knowing there we be no one to stop them.
I talked to my brother yesterday and they had an incident at a Walmart where there were thirty individuals looting the Walmart, the Walmart that my wife and I go to on a pretty regular basis. And they only had three officers respond to thirty individuals who had weapons. Well, they’re not going to use three officers to respond to thirty individuals because of the safety risk incurred to those officers. Those thirty individuals got away.
I thought that Pastor Scott had a great statement today in his opening comment: Pastor you said, the prospect of defunding or dismantling our police forces is one of the most unwise, irresponsible proposals made by American politicians. And I would agree.
There are issues in this proposal that we can all agree upon, a law against lynching, which I supported, and this House passed months ago. Which we voted for earlier this year. Ensuring bad cops don’t get rehired at different agencies – absolutely, that’s an incredible idea. Reporting use of force in an FBI database and creating a commission on the social status of black men and boys based on a Florida program that I participated in as a Florida senator in the state of Florida. I was proud to be a part of that program.
But there are proposals in this bill that are extremely dangerous for those who protect our communities:
Removing qualified immunity. Qualified immunity is only a protection if officers follow their training and protocols. If they don’t follow their training and protocols, they don’t get to use the immunity because it’s “qualified.” If officers do not have qualified immunity to follow their training and protocols, I don’t know a single person who would want to become a law enforcement officer in today’s world, knowing that they may or may not be able to use the training and protocols that they would use to apprehend a suspect that is not complying with them. But maybe that’s the goal of the majority, to get less and less people to join our law enforcement offices.
One quick point in the little time I have left, is military equipment, or as Mr. Raskin calls it, the militarization of our police departments. They use bulletproof vests, and bulletproof shields to protect our officers who protect our communities. By stripping them of that ability and stripping them of their ability to use weapons to protect themself is a dangerous, dangerous path to go down. And I don’t think that our country supports that. And Mr. Floyd, I think, said it best. You said, ‘life is precious’ and I would agree with you, and I would contend that all life is precious and all deserves protection. I yield back.