U.S. Congress for Alabama’s Fourth District Robert Aderholt recently voiced his strong support for law enforcement during a video conference with the Albertville Rotary club where he discussed the issues of racial injustice and police reform that have dominated the nation’s conscience since the death of Minnesota man George Floyd.
“The situation that happened out in Minneapolis with George Floyd… that sent the nation into a tailspin and really changed what the conversation that had been taking place,” Aderholt said during the June 23 video call. “Everyone had been talking about [COVID-19] for the last two months and all of a sudden, people were talking about what was going on with [that situation.]”
Though Alderholt said he believes the U.S. still struggles with racial issues, he condemned the riots and violent protests that occurred in many cities across the U.S. after Floyd’s death.
“It was disappointing to see the way that some people hijacked that,” he said. “Quite honestly, we still have problems in this country and dealing with racial issues, but I think that we’ve made so much progress. I think that we don’t need to forget the progress that has been made. Just because you have a few bad policemen out there that you think all policemen are bad — that’s been the attitude of so many.
Aderholt said unequivocally that he did not support the call many by many protesters to defund police departments.
“Let me go on the record here, I don’t support defunding the police,” he said. “I think that we have got to have the police; they do a great role. 99% of them … are doing their job doing the right thing.”
Aderholt said he has talked to several law enforcement officials about the few “bad apples” that do make it through the hiring process.
“There are some out there that occasionally get hired that are bad apples and [the officials] want them out of the system as much as anybody else, but sometimes it’s hard to get them out,” he said.
Aderholt said he hopes legislation being proposed by both branches of congress would strike the “right balance” in giving law enforcement the support they need and ensuring public safety.
“The right balance for law enforcement and the right balance for this whole issue with police reform is something that we’ve got to make sure that we take very seriously,” he said. “I appreciate the work that the policemen are doing, law enforcements doing. They’re doing a great job and we want to make sure that they continue to do that.”
On Thursday, June 25, the House passed a police reform bill, 236-181. The bill, titled the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, included measures such as banning chokeholds and no-knock warrants in drug cases and reforming qualified immunity for officers, making it easier to pursue claims against them in civil court.
Aderholt voted with the majority of Republicans against the bill, which passed onto the Senate. He previously stated he supported an officer’s right to use a chokehold in life-threatening situations and believed qualified immunity was necessary to protect officers who are trying their best to do their jobs.