By Burgess Everett
04/27/15 | 2:06 PM EDT
Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley has no immediate plans to review police treatment of minorities, following a weekend of protests in Baltimore after the death of a young black man in police custody.
Laying out an agenda that he said focuses on areas of bipartisan cooperation rather than division, the Iowa Republican said he didn’t want to start second-guessing local police departments with congressional investigations or legislation despite a series of high-profile police killings that have sparked African-American demonstrations across the country.
“I’m not the guy that’s facing some violent person or to know whether that person is violent or not. So I hate to second guess [whether] people I expect to protect me might be doing something right or wrong,” Grassley said at a Monday event at the National Press Club. “It may be that we decide not to do anything.”
Grassley was asked specifically if he had plans to investigate police conduct following the death of 25-year-old Freddie Gray, who died this month of a spinal injury after being arrested in Baltimore.
He acknowledged that his staff will take a look at whether the federal government should “give a presumption when a minority is killed by policemen that that should institute a federal intervention,” but he said that any action his panel takes will not be hasty and that it may be months before any decision is made.
Grassley also urged Attorney General Loretta Lynch, sworn in on Monday after a nearly six-month wait for confirmation, not to “throw gasoline on the fire” when discussing the relationship between citizens and police, a direct rebuke to her predecessor Eric Holder, who told residents of Ferguson, Mo., that he identifies with some of the “mistrust” that black citizens feel toward police departments after Michael Brown was killed there last year.
“I don’t think it’s a question of doing things different. It’s a question of being careful what you say,” Grassley said of the Justice Department’s role in overseeing internal police investigations after police killings or deaths in police custody.
The Justice Department is probing the treatment of Gray by police and also conducted a lengthy investigation of the Ferguson Police Department.
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