Washington — President Trump emphasized the need to respect and support law enforcement as he signed an executive order Tuesday addressing policing reforms amid a groundswell of civil unrest. The president signed the order on stage in the White House Rose Garden surrounded by representatives of law enforcement, with no representatives of Americans affected by police brutality on the White House’s attendee list.
Families of several victims of police brutality did meet with the president before the signing.
Mr. Trump’s order is shaped by three key components: credentialing and certifying police departments, boosting information-sharing to better track officers with excessive use-of-force complaints and creating services for addressing mental health, drug addiction and homelessness. But it doesn’t make federal funding conditional to those reforms, but instead potentially prioritizes some grants for departments that meet all those guidelines.
“Reducing crime and raising standards are not opposite goals,” the president said from the Rose Garden Tuesday.
The president emphasized he wants reform that doesn’t compromise the authority and work of good police, and said the percentage of bad cops is “tiny.” Mr. Trump said chokeholds should be off limits unless an officer’s life is at risk. Last week, the president said chokeholds seem “perfect” and “innocent” at first, but he’d generally like to see an end to them.
The president veered off script during his speech, addressing the state of the economy and how he believes it will bounce back from the coronavirus crisis. He also called school choice the “civil rights” issue of modern times.
Mr. Trump told reporters at the White House Monday his “overall goal” for the executive order is law and order, a phrase he’s tweeted out repeatedly in all caps and with no context in recent weeks.
“We want it done fairly, justly. We want it done safely,” he said Monday. “But we want law and order. This is about law and order, but it’s about justice also.”
A senior administration official told reporters that Mr. Trump is also going to ask Congress to pass legislation and allocate funding to implement the White House’s programs.
The Democrat-led House rolled out a sweeping measure last week that aims to ensure officers can be held accountable for misconduct and increase transparency. Their measure bans police chokeholds and no-knock warrants and reforms qualified immunity to make it easier for victims of police misconduct to recover damages when their constitutional rights are violated by police.
The GOP-led Senate is also crafting its own legislative package, spearheaded by Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina, that will focus on police reporting, accountability, training and relations.
The death of George Floyd on Memorial Day sparked nationwide — and worldwide — protests against police brutality. Momentum behind legislative efforts to reform policing has continued to build in the weeks since.