Social Worker leads Legislative Police Reform Efforts


Stanley Remer, MSW, MHA, LCSW

AVASW Legislative and Congressional Liaison

Social Worker, Congresswomen Karen Bass (D-CA) has been tapped by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) to develop legislative reforms based on the recent killing of George Floyd. Ms. Bass completed her Master’s degree in Social Work from the University of Southern California while serving in Congress.

Ms. Bass has been working on efforts to stop police abuse and harassment for many years. She is now working on ways to develop this expansive legislation that will ban chokeholds, no-knock warrants and make other policing policy changes. She represents a district in Los Angeles that suffered unrest and rioting after the Rodney King beating in 1992.

Ms. Bass currently serves as the Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus and head of the judiciary subcommittee on crime, terrorism and homeland security. She also is a member of the Social Work Caucus. At the recent Inaugural Roundtable - Congressional Social Work Caucus in March, she detailed her interests in criminal justice reform that also addresses the needs and issues of women and children.

The vote on this proposed legislation is targeted for the end of June, 2020. This legislation could pass with Democratic votes alone, however, Ms. Bass has been talking to Republicans, including Minority Leader, Kevin McCarthy (R-CA). Her regular contact with McCarthy is expected to result in bipartisan support for this bill. In fact, Mr. McCarthy has called her his ‘favorite Democrat’.

Congresswomen Bass has actively used her social work skills in building a coalition to support this major overhaul. She has been communicating with both Progressive activists, as well as those who are more Conservative, but who see the need for basic changes in police reform.

On the Senate side, the GOP is crafting their own proposals led by Senator Tim Scott who is the only black Republican senator.

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