Florida Rep. Val Demings, former police chief, says Chauvin verdict could be a turning point

Rep. Val Demings, D-Fla., questions National Counterterrorism Center Director Christopher Miller, left, and Federal Bureau of Investigation Director Christopher Wray, before the House Homeland Security Committee hearing on 'worldwide threats to the homeland', Thursday, Sept. 17, 2020 on Capitol Hill Washington. (Chip Somodevilla/Pool via AP)
Rep. Val Demings, D-Fla., questions National Counterterrorism Center Director Christopher Miller, left, and Federal Bureau of Investigation Director Christopher Wray, before the House Homeland Security Committee hearing on 'worldwide threats to the homeland', Thursday, Sept. 17, 2020 on Capitol Hill Washington. (Chip Somodevilla/Pool via AP) (2020 Getty Images)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Rep. Val Demings had an unconventional path to Congress.

For nearly three decades, Demings (D-Florida) worked in law enforcement. She made a historic rise through the Orlando Police Department before she was elected to represent the 10th Congressional District in Central Florida.

Now she is working to change how police across the nation serve their communities.

Demings, who grew up in Jacksonville, told The Morning Show on Thursday that she thinks the recent guilty verdict in the trial of former police officer Derek Chauvin could lead to meaningful national police reform.

“America has gone through some tough times and we’ve seen America rise to the occasion in the past,” Demings said. “Many thought we could not, whether it was women’s rights, voting rights, equal rights, human rights, and this is an opportunity, yet again, for America to be held to its promise. No, we’re not the America we were created to be, but the verdict this week certainly is a major step in the right direction.”

Demings said the verdict will be a springboard for the U.S. Senate to take a look at the legislation that is before them in the George Floyd Justice In Policing Act. The legislation would prohibit federal, state and local law enforcement from racial, religious and discriminatory profiling, and would ban chokeholds and no-knock warrants at the local and state level. It would also require that deadly force be used only as a last resort and require officers to employ de-escalation techniques first.

“We’re not starting from scratch,” she said. “We’ve been working on this legislation for a while. As you know, it passed in the House last year and in March of this year.”

Demings made national headlines this week when she clashed with Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) during a House Judiciary Committee hearing over policing. She attacked Jordan and other Republicans, saying they only support the police when it is politically convenient.

“Law enforcement officers risk their lives every day. They deserve better,” Demings said before being interrupted by Jordan. “What, did I strike a nerve? Law enforcement officers deserve better than to be utilized as pawns!”

Demings said she wants to see the relationship between the police and the community improve and to have law enforcement agencies reflect the communities they serve.

“I’m asking the police to also — the family that I love, the profession that I love — to also rise to the occasion,” Demings said. “I’ve spoken to sheriffs and police chiefs all over the country and asked them to fix their own brokenness, to not wait until, you know, for legislation to help them fix their own brokenness.”

Demings who was on the shortlist to become Joe Biden’s vice president before he picked Kamala Harris, was also asked Thursday if she is planning to run for governor next year against Gov. Ron DeSantis.

“You sound like a lot of other people who have called me, emailed me, sent me texts and talked to my colleagues and family and friends,” she said. “What I can tell you is this: I have dedicated my life to public service as a social worker in Jacksonville, as a career law enforcement officer in Orlando, and now working on behalf of the American people in our nation’s Capitol. I will continue to work hard. I am a public servant, and I will continue to work hard wherever and in whatever office the mission takes me, and so we’ll just have to wait and see.”


About the Author: