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The United States is closer than it has ever been to adopting nationwide standards on the use of force by police officers.

Let’s not let this moment pass without action.

President Donald J. Trump took the first step this week when he signed an executive order addressing the issue. The order calls for creation of a national database that would allow departments to keep track of officers with a record of abuse, and it advocates a system in which mental health professionals would respond alongside police officers in certain situations.

To make those changes truly meaningful, though, Congress will need to act.

South Carolina’s Tim Scott, the lone black Republican in the U.S. Senate, hopes to see a bill pass that chamber ahead of lawmakers’ Fourth of July recess. “I’m certainly going to push that we get it sooner than later, …” he told Politico. “I think us waiting a month before we vote is a bad decision. So I hope that we are willing to take up the legislation and just be on the record.”

It would help, he said, if he could find some Democrats to join the effort.

In an interview with Yahoo Finance, Valerie Jarrett, a senior adviser to former President Barack Obama, sounded optimistic that reform might actually happen. “I do think it’s the beginning of a turning point,” she said. “And the question will be, can we sustain this effort over time?”

The bill now pending in the House would ban certain police tactics such as chokeholds, and it would mandate that police wear body cameras. It would also limit the “qualified immunity” that often shields police officers from being punished for their abusive actions.

Congress should strive to enact all of those reforms, but it should not, to paraphrase Voltaire, allow the perfect to become the enemy of the good.

Many of the needed reforms will come at the local level, but the federal government can play an important role by offering incentives for positive changes while taking enforcement action against departments whose efforts come up short. Whatever measure comes out of Congress should include funding to pay for the changes it encourages.

As he announced his executive order, the president spoke directly to those who had lost loved ones at the hands of police. “To all the hurting families, I want you to know that all Americans mourn by your side,” he said. “Your loved ones will not have died in vain.”

Americans should insist on that. They should demand that their representatives in Washington take advantage of this moment by enacting real reform.

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