SEATTLE, WA – Today, Representative Adam Smith (D-Wash.) released the following statement after the City of Memphis released the body camera and surveillance video of the traffic stop and brutal beating that led to the death of Tyre Nichols.
“Tyre Nichols should be alive today. The video we saw documenting the brutal beating he suffered at the hands of police was horrific. Swift action to arrest and charge the officers who were involved in his murder is absolutely necessary. But more must be done. We need to transform our approach to public safety, which includes drastic reforms to policing. Police training should be focused on de-escalation, rather than aggression, as it historically has been, so that what happened to Tyre Nichols and so many others is not repeated. Equally as important, we must invest in programs that train specialized professionals to respond to nonviolent 911 calls that don’t require police officers. These programs are successful in reducing unnecessary interactions between police and community members and pay special attention to vulnerable and under-represented communities, so that they get the treatment and care they deserve. In my district, the Health One program has saved countless lives and has enabled us to better respond to our public safety needs. We need more investments from the federal government to expand programs like this to communities across the country. Calls to abolish the criminal justice system entirely are the wrong approach and are distracting from the work that needs to be done to dramatically reform the system. House Democrats have previously passed the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, which has some of the reforms and investments we need to be pushing for in Congress that will make our communities safer for everyone. My thoughts are with the friends and family of Tyre Nichols, who should not have to endure the grief they are experiencing right now. His tragic and unjust death is a result of the failure of our policing system. We can and should do better.”