President Donald Trump has signed an executive order introducing a number of police reforms as he looks to address the national outcry over police brutality as well as social injustice. However, Trump rejected cries to defund the police and instead offered ardent support for those in law enforcement.
The executive order involves federal grants to law enforcement in order to improve practices and integrity of police and other services. A database will now be created that will be used to track and trace police officers that have a history of using excessive force.
With the order coming amidst heavy protests against social injustice across the country, many expected the President to at least broach the issue of racism. However, Trump stayed clear of the issue, instead choosing to highlight that the instances of officers killing unarmed black Americans rested only on a small number of individual officers.
Trump actually heavily criticised efforts to defend law enforcement and instead insisted that police officers deserve respect and praise, citing the efforts of those who ran into the World Trade Center in September 2001.
“Though we may all come from different places and different backgrounds, we’re united by our desire to ensure peace and dignity and equality for all Americans. I’ve just concluded a meeting with incredible families, just incredible families that have been through so much. The families of Ahmaud Arbery, Botham Jean, Antwon Rose, Jemel Roberson, Atatiana Jefferson, Michael Dean, Darius Tarver, Cameron Lamb and Everett Palmer,” Trump announced at his midday press conference at the White House Rose Garden.
Despite a relatively unifying tone and message early on in the press conference, President Trump soon took to concentrating on his political rivals and the behavior of the stock market in recent weeks.
“These are incredible people, incredible people, and it’s so sad. Many of these families lost their loved ones in deadly interactions with police. To all of the hurting families I want you to know that all Americans mourn by your side, your loved ones will not have died in vain. We are one nation, we grieve together and we heal together.
“I can never imagine your pain or the depth of your anguish, but I can promise to fight for justice for all of our people. And I gave a commitment to all of those families today with Senator Tim Scott and Attorney General Bill Barr, we are going to pursue what we said.”
The president’s executive order involves attempts to incentivize police departments to improve by tying extra federal grants to those that are the ‘best practices’. A federal database of complaints against police officers will also be created and the order attempts to encourage law enforcement agencies to bring social workers along in non-violent situations such as homelessness and cases involving drug addictions.
Trump and the White House have been keen to stress that the idea represented by the executive order is to allow police to integrate safely and more efficiently in communities without causing unnecessary problems.
The order also means that police departments that have obtained certifications of high standards regarding de-escalation training and use of force will be prioritized for federal grants. Trump also stated that chokeholds will be banned from now on, except if an officer’s life is at risk. Additionally, the president also said that his government was looking into new, less lethal weapons in order to help to prevent deadly interactions.
These new measures will be regarded as at least a step in the right direction, but Trump’s refusal to accept suggestions of ingrained racism in police forces and his reluctance to criticize law enforcement in any way means many are still furious with the president.
“Today is about pursuing common sense and fighting, fighting for a cause like we seldom get the chance to fight for, we have to find common ground. But I strongly oppose the radical and dangerous efforts to defend, dismantle and dissolve our police departments, especially now when we’ve achieved the lowest recorded crime rates in recent history,” Trump said during his speech.
“Americans know the truth, without police there is chaos, without law there is anarchy and without safety there is catastrophe. We need leaders at every level of government who have the moral clarity to state these obvious facts.
“Americans believe we must support the brave men and women in blue who police our streets and keep us safe. Americans also believe we must improve accountability, increase transparency and invest more resources in police training, recruiting and community engagement. Reducing crime and raising standards are not opposite goals, they are not mutually exclusive, they work together, they all work together.
“That is why today I’m signing an executive order encouraging police departments nationwide to adopt the highest professional standards to serve their communities. These standards will be as high and as strong as there is on earth.”