WASHINGTON, D.C. — House Democrats prevailed this week in their effort to get a 2006 FBI intelligence assessment on the infiltration of White supremacists in law enforcement unredacted. The document characterizes the issue as a security threat. House Democrats maintain the report is evidence of systemic racism that persists in police departments today.
"When we talk about systemic racism, we aren't litigating the individual attitudes of any one officer. We can all exist in racist systems and do not have to be racist or consciously racist in order to participate in these systems," said Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, (D-NY).
But at a House Oversight subcommittee hearing Tuesday, Republicans emphatically rejected the premise. They say Democrats are weaponizing a small number of episodes for political gain.
"I believe we need more minority law enforcement officers. I've always said that but I do believe that the constant attack of our law enforcement is heavily overweighted in Democrat rhetoric right before an election right now for obvious reasons," said Rep. James Comer, (R-KY).
The now unredacted FBI document suggests officials at the agency have long had concerns about white supremacists leaching on to departments, blending in and finding vulnerabilities among officers. But the Trump administration has retreated from this conversation and declined to send anyone to the hearing.
When Spectrum News 1 reached out to the FBI, we received no comment.
One law enforcement official shared the challenges in firing problem officers.
"We have some people who have frightening disciplinary histories on our department and it's hard to get rid of these people and to get them out the door. It is an ongoing challenge. We do want law enforcement officers to have due process rights and to be protected like any citizen would expect to be protected in the employment environment but to some extent maybe these protections have gone a little too far," said Mark Napier, the Pima County Sheriff in Arizona.
Napier also cast doubt on the idea of systemic racism in policing during his testimony but retired officer Heather Taylor, a Black woman, who now serves as the president of the St. Louis based Ethical Society of Police, detailed how she was targeted for speaking out.
"I've risked my life by reporting officers. I've received death threats from officers, officers liking the idea of me bleeding out on a call by myself," she said.