President Trump on Tuesday signed an executive order that aims to improve accountability among law enforcement, tighten policing standards, and spur community engagement.
The order encourages police departments to ban chokeholds (except in emergencies), calls for a federal database of police officers with a history of misconduct to prevent them from moving between departments, and provides funding to help police departments utilize social workers and other non-police experts for issues including homelessness, addiction, and mental health.
Police departments are not required to implement these standards, but those who do will be first in line for federal grants. It is unclear how the order will be enforced, though Administration officials have pointed to local leaders and mayors to hold police departments accountable. The order does not mention racism.
The National Fraternal Order of Police (the nation’s largest police union) welcomed the order, saying it “strikes a great balance between the vital need for public and officer safety” that will “make your officers and the public they protect safer.”
During the signing ceremony, President Trump spoke of his interactions with the families of Ahmaud Arbery and others who have died in encounters with police, describing them as “incredible people” whose “loved ones will not have died in vain.”
Trump expressed support for law enforcement and made it clear that he rejects the call to defund the police.
“I strongly oppose the radical and dangerous efforts to defund, dismantle, and dissolve our police departments,” he said. “Especially now when we’ve achieved the lowest recorded crime rates in recent history…Without police there is chaos, without law there is anarchy, and without safety there is a catastrophe.”
The executive order on police reform follows three weeks of sometimes-violent protest spurred by the killing of George Floyd by a white police officer in Minneapolis. The Minneapolis City Council has already voted to end its police department and mayors of several major cities – including LA and NYC – have vowed to cut police budgets.
Protestors in Seattle have established an “autonomous zone” without police known as CHAZ or CHOP.
Last week, Trump urged officials in Washington to take back the area and threatened to do it himself if they failed. “This is not a game,” he tweeted. “These ugly Anarchists must be stopped IMMEDIATELY.”