Omar pushes ‘proactive’ federal oversight board for policing

Omar said the board should be “an unbiased agency” made up of people “who [don’t] have a law enforcement background.”

By Lauren Marcus, World Israel News

Progressive congresswoman Ilhan Omar (D-MN) announced Friday that she’ll soon introduce a bill creating a federal agency to investigate police killings.

During an interview with local news station KARE 11 in Minnesota, she proposed that the eight-member board be appointed by the sitting president, with no more than four representatives from each party.

“This is going to be a proactive board that does the work on behalf of our country in trying to make sure that these agents of the law are taking their oath seriously and that the work they’re doing is work that helps communities feel safe,” Omar told KARE11.

She said the agency should work off the blueprint of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), which conducts in-depth public inquiries into airline and other public transportation accidents.

“It’s an existing agency. It’s one that works,” Omar said in the Friday interview. “And we believe our criminal justice system needs an agency like that.”

However, she added that the board should “be a makeup of people who will not have a law enforcement background – be an unbiased agency.”

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Making sure the people on the board have no real world experience in policing is “key,” she said.

In contrast, the NTSB is made up of professionals with years of experience in the airline and transportation industries, including former pilots, engineers, and others with deep knowledge of the field they’re investigating.

Omar had originally introduced a bill proposing the creation of a federal agency to oversee police killings and deaths in custody in December 2019, but the bill was quickly shelved.

The lawmaker’s team sent out an email last week trying to rally support for the revival of the bill.

The National Police Misuse of Force Investigation Board Act, Omar told subscribers to her email newsletter, would be critical in reforming law enforcement across the U.S.

“This legislation is an important step in stopping the disturbing pattern of police violence,” the email read. “But we need a groundswell of grassroots support to make sure this bill becomes law.”

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Laurie Robinson, a law professor at George Mason University, said that Omar’s proposal is unlikely to get off the ground due to jurisdictional issues.

“I don’t know how, from a legal standpoint and constitutional standpoint perhaps, that a federal agency would be able to delve in and require a local agency to turn over evidence,” she told KARE11.