Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., has introduced a bill that aims to improve police performance by offering monetary rewards for good service.
The bill, known as the “Better Community Policing Recognition Act,” calls for setting up a fund that would pay state, local and tribal officers chosen by the U.S. Attorney General. The payment would be titled the Better Community Policing Award.
“Police officers are being unfairly demonized across the country as calls for defunding departments grow, despite the fact that the vast majority of officers are selfless public servants who are already underfunded,” Cotton said in a statement. “It’s never been more important to recognize those officers who exemplify the best kind of policing.”
Officers would be eligible for nomination by their departments or their state’s attorney general if they “exemplify best practices or significant innovation” that reduces excessive force or improves policing in their community. Detailed criteria for the awards would be established by the attorney general.
The fund would start with $5 million and be replenished every year through fiscal year 2025. The bill does not specify what the maximum individual award would be or how many awards would be distributed.
“My bill will reward the policemen and women who are working hard to improve their service and win the public’s trust,” Cotton said.
Cotton’s approach to improving the police comes as many Democrats are calling for drastic police reform in the wake of George Floyd’s death after being pinned by the neck by a police officer. Those reform measures include severely cutting funding to police departments and, in some cases, abolishing police altogether.
Some Democratic leaders such as Congressional Black Caucus Chair Rep. Karen Bass, D-Calif., Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., and presumptive Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden have opposed the more extreme measures. At the same time, others such as Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., have supported cutting police funding and designating resources to other community programs, and Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., has supported disbanding the Minneapolis Police Department altogether.
The announcement of Cotton’s bill comes as President Trump signed an executive order on police reform. Trump said the order promotes “the highest professional standards,” which includes banning officers from using chokeholds unless their lives are in danger.