President Biden signs landmark police reform executive order

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On the two-year observance of George Floyd’s death at the hands of the Minneapolis police, President Joe Biden signed an executive order on police reform to prevent excessive force and encourage officer intervention in such cases.

“Two years ago, the murder of George Floyd exposed for many what Black and Brown communities have long known and experienced—that more must be done to ensure that America lives up to its founding promise of fair and impartial justice for all,” President Biden stated.

Following the murder conviction of former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin, three other cops were found guilty in federal court of violating Floyd’s civil rights. Prosecutors said the trio stood by while Chauvin pressed his knee into the unarmed 46-year-old’s neck for more than nine minutes.

Thomas Lane recently agreed to a plea deal to avoid state prosecution and serve two years in prison.
The other two officers involved, J. Alexander Kueng and Tou Thao, face a state trial this summer.

Attorney General Keith Ellison, who led the prosecution team that won the conviction of Chauvin, attended the White House event with law enforcement leaders, the family of George Floyd, and attorneys general from states around the country.  

“Thank goodness President Biden is taking this historic action,” Attorney General Ellison said in a statement. “Everyone in every community has a right to be safe, and President Biden has shown once again today he understands it’s government’s duty to help provide that safety.

“But Congress is still failing to do its part. Two years to the day after the death of George Floyd sparked a worldwide cry for just policing and safety for all, the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act is still languishing in Congress. Congress is failing in its duty to build trust and keep all Americans safe—civilians and police officers both—so the President took decisive action.”  

He added, “It was an honor to be part of this historic moment and I am grateful to the President for taking these bold, historic steps that will help restore trust in policing and safety for all communities.”

The order intends to enhance public trust by promoting accountability, transparency, and the principles of equality and dignity in policing and the larger criminal justice system.

Increased trust makes policing more effective and thereby strengthens public safety, the president stated.
“Without that trust, victims do not call for help. Witnesses do not step forward. Crimes go unsolved. Justice is not served,” he said.

The order mandates measures for all federal law enforcement agencies, leveraging the president’s direct authority over the executive branch.

It requires the use of federal tools such as guidance on best practices, training, and technical assistance, and grantmaking to support reforms at state, tribal, local, and territorial law enforcement agencies that will strengthen public trust and improve public safety across the nation.

The order creates a new national database of police misconduct to include records of officer misconduct, including convictions, terminations, de-certifications, civil judgments, resignations, and retirements while under investigation for serious misconduct, and sustained complaints or records of disciplinary actions for serious misconduct.

The data also will have due process protections for officers.

Biden’s order requires federal agencies to adopt measures to promote thorough investigation and preservation of evidence after incidents involving the use of deadly force or deaths in custody, as well as to prevent unnecessary delays and ensure appropriate administration of discipline.
It also mandates the adoption of body-worn camera policies.

Further, the order bans the use of chokeholds and carotid restraints unless deadly force is authorized and restricts the use of no-knock entries. It also directs a government-wide strategic plan to propose interventions to reform the criminal justice system.

A new committee with representatives from agencies across the federal government will produce a strategic plan that advances front-end diversion, alternatives to incarceration, rehabilitation, and reentry.

Biden has ordered the attorney general to publish an annual report on resources available to support the needs of persons on probation or supervised release.

“It’s an effort to be responsive,” administration officials stated.

This story was provided in part by Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire senior national correspondent.