Paul Ryan: Federal law won’t heal police-community relations

Amid another round of unrest spurred by police shootings of black men, House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, says he believes America needs to find “new ways of learning how to heal” – but he doesn’t think the federal government should legislate a solution.

The federal government’s role in regulating police tactics came under scrutiny this week after Republican Presidential nominee Donald Trump suggested instituting “stop-and-frisk” policing nationwide – a stance he later clarified​, saying he was only suggesting “stop and frisk” for Chicago.

Ryan spoke with “Face the Nation” on Friday, after days of violent protests rocked Charlotte, North Carolina following a fatal police shooting of a black man, Keith Scott, and after a similar incident in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where a police officer is now facing felony manslaughter charges​ after shooting and killing an unarmed black driver, Terence Crutcher.

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“First of all-- it’s heartbreaking,” Ryan said of the recent developments in Oklahoma and North Carolina. “This country has to find new ways of learning how to heal and understand all the different perspectives.”

“What we’re doing here in the House is…some of the former law enforcement members, members of the Black Caucus, judiciary committee – and we have a working group on this – they were in Detroit last week, doing listening sessions,” Ryan explained. “They’re now all doing ride-along with the police. And what we’re trying to do is quietly and calmly come together and find what we can find some common solutions. I think the big thing that needs to be done is in each of these communities are people who are endeavoring to come up with solutions. I think we need to find those people and help them with their solutions.”

“I look at Omar Jahwar, a pastor in Dallas, he has a program called Urban Specialists,” Ryan continued. “He and Antong Lucky, a guy who was a former gang member, are making sure that young people in the communities are finding pass out of poverty and reconciling. I think that what we have to do is go find those poverty fighters, those reconcilers, those people who are fixing these problems in the communities. Don’t displace them. Lift them up, and get behind them.”

Asked what politicians and leaders at the national level can do to play a calming role and facilitate a solution, Ryan suggested the answer has more to do with listening than lawmaking.

“I don’t want to make the case that the federal government can just pass a law and this is all going to go away,” he said. “I think what we need to do is make sure we go in the communities, listen, learn, identify local homegrown solutions, support them. And then see if we can find good solutions that could be replicated in other areas. And that’s the kind of dialogue we’re trying to achieve.”

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“Bottom up, not top down,” Face the Nation moderator John Dickerson suggested.

“That’s right,” Ryan agreed.

“So when Donald Trump suggests stop-and-frisk for Chicago, that feels like top down,” Dickerson followed up, citing the Republican nominee’s recent suggestion than New York City’s controversial “stop and frisk” policy could be expanded to other cities like Chicago. The policy allows officers to search people they stop if the officers have reason to believe those people are violating a law. Proponents say the policy has helped deter crime, but critics say it has sown mistrust between police and communities, particularly minority communities. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio pledged to stop police from using the tactic during his 2013 campaign.

“I think Chicago should make that decision. New York made that decision…and a lot of people in New York thought it was successful,” Ryan said.

When asked whether he believes it’s a good idea, though, Ryan said it has to be “done the right way.”

“You have to make sure…there are reasonable suspicion standards,” he said. “I think local police, in local communities, need to make those decisions. You can talk to New Yorkers and talk to former mayors of New York who thought it worked well.”

“Obviously, it cannot be done along racial lines, along ethnic lines,” Ryan added. “It’s got to be done along security lines where those reasonable suspicion standards are met. But again, I just don’t think that’s something we should pass a law here to do. That’s something that local communities have to decide how best to keep them safe.”

For more of our interview with Speaker Ryan, tune in Sunday​. Check your local listings for airtimes​.