Rep. Kat Cammack invites Dems to meet their local police: 'I am challenging them to a ride-along'
Florida GOP Rep. Kat Cammack, whose husband is a veteran first responder, sounds the alarm on Democrats’ reform bill on ‘Fox & Friends’
EXCLUSIVE: Rep. Kat Cammack, who recently made an impassioned speech on the House floor defending first responders, has issued a challenge to her Democratic colleagues who are pushing for a sweeping overhaul in policing policy.
Cammack, R-Fla., sent a letter to her fellow members of Congress inviting them to spend a day with police on the job in an effort to build an understanding of local law enforcement. She offered to travel to their hometowns to set up the meeting or invite them to her Gainesville-area district to witness local Florida law enforcement officers hard at work.
"I am challenging them to a ride-along in their home districts, and I have made the commitment that I will fly to their home districts, and I will spend time with them and their police and their sheriff's office, and we will do a ride-along together," Cammack told Fox News in an exclusive interview.
Cammack is married to a SWAT medic and she's staunchly against any efforts to defund the police or to take away resources from departments. She spoke out against Democrats' legislation known as the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act that passed the House along party lines last week.
The legislation would ban chokeholds, alter qualified immunity protections for police in civil lawsuits and creates national standards for policing.
Rep. Kat Cammack, R-Fla., speaks on the House floor with her husband's SWAT vest.
Cammack believes if Democrats had personal relationships with their local police officers, they wouldn't have voted in favor of the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act last week.
She said she wants to educate her colleagues about what it's like being part of the first responder family and introduce them to their local law enforcement community.
"I guarantee you, for many of them -- there's not a relationship there. Because if they had a relationship with their local law enforcement community they wouldn't have taken that vote," Cammack told Fox News.
Cammack, 33, and the youngest GOP woman elected in the historic 2020 freshman class, took special issue with policing bill provisions that limit the Pentagon from transferring certain military-grade equipment to civilian police departments. It's been a common practice for years for the military to give excess equipment to police, including Humvees, armored trucks, semi-automatic rifles and helicopters.
But the military giveaway, known as the 1033 program, started to come under bipartisan scrutiny during the Obama administration, with critics saying the militarization of the police has stoked an adversarial relationship with the community.
Last week, Cammack brought her husband's SWAT vest to the House floor during a speech where she spoke personally of the harrowing situations where he relied on the vest's protection, including a massive manhunt for a man who raped and killed his girlfriend and during a barricaded gunman standoff.
"This bill [would] take this vest off my husband's back, because, yes, what this bill does is take this kind of equipment off the backs of our men and women in uniform," Cammack said in the powerful speech.
Rep. Kat Cammack and her husband, Matt, a SWAT medic (Congresswoman Kat Cammack)
A review of the policing legislation shows that it does not ban the military from giving SWAT vests to local police departments, but rather bans other items like firearms, ammunition, bayonets, grenades and launchers, explosives and certain vehicles, aircraft and drones.
Pressed on the text of the legislation and how SWAT vests aren't banned, Cammack stood by her assertion that the legislation would take such vests off the backs of first responders.
She said her husband, Matt, obtained the bulletproof vest through the 1033 military program, and the way the policing law is written there's "exceptionally broad jurisdiction to make the determination of what they classify as military."
The Democrats' policing bill now heads to the split 50-50 Senate where it has an uphill climb. It would need 60 votes for passage and therefore GOP support.
In the meantime, Cammack is speaking out against defunding-the-police efforts at the local level, where she specifically called out New York City for deciding to reduce police funding by $1 billion.
In her letter to colleagues, Cammack said she's committed to police reforms but rebuilding trust between communities and law enforcement can best occur with "a fully funded and well-trained police force."
She urged her colleagues to join her in starting the conversation with the men and women in blue with a ride-along.
"Understanding the nuances of effective police reform can only be achieved when we witness law enforcement officers and first responders' jobs firsthand," Cammack wrote.
Fox News' Jacqui Heinrich contributed to this report.