Trump signs executive order on policing to build “public trust” in law enforcement

Monday, the White House tweeted:

Both public safety and public trust are crucial to the law enforcement mission.

Tomorrow’s Executive Order will uphold clear and high policing standards, promote accountability in law enforcement, and help equip police officers for constructive community engagement.

Politico reports President Donald Trump on Tuesday signed an executive order aimed at guiding police 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.

The president revealed in his Rose Garden remarks that he’d 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. 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.” And the order would encourage better information sharing to track officers with “credible abuses” to prevent them from moving from one department to the next, while aiming to provide officers with “less lethal weapons.”

But the president’s action Tuesday is sure to draw 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 outlined only incentives to prioritize federal money for departments that adopt the president’s recommendations.

The president himself appeared to acknowledge the restraints of unilateral action, announcing that “beyond the steps we’re taking today, I am committed to working with Congress on additional measures” for police reform.

At the outset of his remarks, the president took on a more somber tone as he addressed his private meeting with the families of Ahmaud Arbery, Botham Jean, Antwon Rose, Atatiana Jefferson, Jemel Roberson, Michael Dean, Darius Tarver, Cameron Lamb and Everett Palmer.

“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’re one nation, we grieve together and we heal together,” Trump said. “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.”

Although the president later added that “what is needed now is not more stoking of fear and division,” his early calls for unity quickly fell by the wayside as the speech delved into an emphasis on, and condemnation of, the looting and destruction that were relative outliers at mass protests nationwide for police reform.

“Law and order must be restored,” Trump demanded, asserting that “the looters have no cause that they’re fighting for — just trouble.”

“Americans know the truth: Without police, there is chaos. Without law, there is anarchy. And without safety, there is catastrophe,” Trump argued, adding that “we need leaders at every level of government who have the moral clarity to state these obvious facts.”

“Reducing crime and raising standards are not opposite goals. They’re not mutually exclusive,” he continued.