President Donald Trump, on Tuesday, signed an executive order calling on US police departments “to adopt the highest professional standards to serve their communities.”
He proposed measures such as a national database for law enforcement misconduct and restrictions on the use of chokeholds.
The executive order is aimed at guiding policy reforms after weeks of nationwide unrest over police killings of unarmed black Americans — though the reforms he outlined fall far short of changes demanded by protesters, Politico reports.
The president revealed in his Rose Garden remarks that he had just met with the families of nine victims of police or racially motivated killings — though none were in the audience as he laid out three planks of reforms, according to a pool report.
The order would create federal incentives through the Justice Department for local police departments that seek “independent credentialing” to certify that law enforcement is meeting higher standards for the use of force and de-escalation training.
Trump specifically noted that those standards would include banning the use of chokeholds — an especially controversial tactic that has led to the high-profile deaths of multiple African-American men — “except if an officer’s life is at risk.”
Trump’s order would also incentivize local departments to bring on experts in mental health, addiction and homelessness as “co-responders” to “help officers manage these complex encounters.”
The text of the order directs the Justice Department to create and maintain a database to track when officers have been terminated or decertified, have been criminally convicted for on-duty conduct or faced civil judgments for improper use of force.
It notes that information-sharing related to use-of-force complaints will not apply in “instances where a law enforcement officer resigns or retires while under active investigation related to the use of force.”
He emphasized that the database would track only episodes in which an officer was “afforded fair process.“
The president’s action on Tuesday swiftly drew criticism from activists for systemic reform for not going far enough and for a lack of teeth.
The vast majority of law enforcement decisions are made at the state and local levels, and Trump‘s order aims only to incentivize local departments by stipulating that only departments that adopt his reforms might be eligible for discretionary grants from the Justice Department.